North West JLM AGM with guest speaker Angela Rayner MP

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The North West Region of the Jewish Labour Movement were delighted to welcome Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Angela Rayner MP as the guest speaker at their AGM, alongside JLM President Louise Ellman MP, JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark and Sikhs for Labour Vice Chair Gurinder Singh Josan.

Angela spoke passionately about the need for a true National Education Service, with cradle to grave learning. She was also clear that the Jewish community has not abandoned the Labour Party, rather it was the other way around, that the Jewish community will always have a friend in her, and that our votes cannot be taken for granted. Her strong and passionate speech was a clear inspiration to the packed out room. 

Jeremy and Louise spoke about the work of the Jewish Labour Movement in the past year, with specific reference to the campaigning that the North West region has done on the doorstep. Finally, Gurinder spoke about his campaign to sit on Labour's NEC and the importance of BAME representation.

North West JLM also held their elections. Their results were as follows:

Chair: Cllr Jane Black

Vice Chair: Dena Ryeness

Secretary: Jess Goldstone

Treasurer: Michael Rubenstein

Membership: Richard Gold

Youth and Students: Frankie Simons

Non-portfolio officers: Marlon Solomon and David Levene

Our thanks to all those who stood and b'hatzlacha to the new committee.

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Mike Katz's Speech at Labour Conference

Missed Mike Katz's speech at Labour Party Conference? Check it out here...

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Labour NEC adopt JLM's Rule Change Proposals

We are heartened that the NEC has adopted our rule change proposals and will be taking them forward to Party Conference next week.  This is another step forward, however our campaign will not end until these proposals are adopted in full by Conference itself -this is not a given and will require the firm support of the Leadership.  These constitutional amendments, if passed, will simply bring the Labour’s rules to the place that should have been expected from a political party rooted in values of equality and anti-racism.  The proof of the pudding will be in the eating.  That means that if passed at Conference the new rules will need to be firmly implemented to create a zero-tolerance environment for antisemitism and other forms of discrimination. The Party will then need to take steps to rebuild its relationship with the Jewish community.” 

Jeremy Newmark, National Chair, Jewish Labour Movement

ENDS

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Support for JLM's Rule Change

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Labour Vision interview with Jeremy Newmark

Originally printed in Labour Vision, interview by Sam Stopp. 

Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement tells Labour Vision: “We stay, we stand, and we fight.”

Jeremy Newmark answers my call to him in his usual strong, enthusiastic voice. His energy as an orator and as a campaigner is a defiant rejoinder to the anti-Semites who bedevil our politics with ever-increasing boldness.

Towards the end of our conversation, Newmark tells me that his message to those who have left Labour – or are thinking of leaving Labour – because of the scourge of anti-Semitism is to revive the spirit of Cable Street. “We stay, we stand and we fight”, Newmark growls. And I believe him.

As a Jewish Labour member myself, I have been eager to interview Newmark for some time. Although not Jewish myself, I joined the Movement last year when it was becoming increasingly apparent that the Labour Party had a growing problem with anti-Semitism. Call it solidarity or basic Socialist instinct if you will. Many other non-Jewish Labour members have done the same and the Movement’s ranks have now swelled to over 2,000.

I begin by asking Newmark what the highlights and lowlights of his time as JLM Chair have been. Newmark, who was elected to the position eighteen months ago tells me, “It’s been a paradoxical experience. I stood in order to help renew and rebuild JLM as a base and a safe space within the party for what was a growing number of, particularly, young Jewish Labour activists. Within a matter of weeks of coming into the office, I found myself at the nexus of dealing with a spate of issues, incidents and what became a far more ingrained problem of anti-Semitism across the Labour Party.”

So, not quite what Newmark would have hoped for, then. Certainly, it is difficult to imagine the chair of any other ethnic minority group within Labour having to fight a rearguard action against people who don’t even want them in the party. “It’s not what I saw myself doing”, he goes on. “This shouldn’t be an organisation defined by reaction and responses to anti-Semitism. As you saw at our conference, Sam, there’s a range of policy concerns, values and issues that our members want to speak out about, campaign around and express that intersection between Jewish values and Labour values. The frustration is that so much time and energy has been dominated by the negativity around anti-Semitism.”

But it’s not all bleak. “One of the absolute highlights,” says Newmark, “has been the growth in our membership, and particularly the number of young members under the age of 26, who now account for over 50% of our entire membership base. They have really rallied to the cause and formed the future leadership of our organisation and hopefully the Labour Party and the Jewish community. The Jewish News ran a list of thirty of the most influential Jews under the age of thirty recently, and over fifty percent of them were members playing an active role in JLM.”

Is Newmark’s glass half full or half empty about the situation, I wonder? “I guess it’s a bit of both. I think that on the issues around anti-Semitism, while a lot of work remains to be done, we’ve also made tremendous progress. We had the Labour Students Inquiry, the Chakrabarti Inquiry, we’ve got rule change proposals going to conference, we’ve trained over 1,000 party members and that number is increasing all of the time. So, we’re not just seeing change. We’re actually seeing that change become institutionalised in the party. I think it will take a while for the impact of that change to become clear, but I do get a sense that issues are being dealt with better and more effectively at a local level and at a national level. We’re making progress.”

While this is all encouraging, I have to ask Newmark how widely he feels anti-Semtism has infected the party. Certainly, in my experience of both Labour Party meetings and Twitter abuse, there’s an unsettling amount of it out there, and I do not recall it being anywhere near as abundant a few years ago. “Look, I think it operates at different levels,” Newmark says. “First, let’s be clear that anti-Semitism exists within all different political parties. A couple of years ago we were talking about one Tory minister kitting out a stag dos with Nazi uniforms and not being disciplined by the Tory party. So, there’s a base layer of anti-Semitism in any party.”

“But I think that what we’ve seen with Labour in the last eighteen months are two things”, he goes on. “One: the influx of new members, including a disproportionate number of people who have deeply problematic attitudes towards Jewish people. Secondly, we’re seeing some of those people and some more established members feel emboldened and say things that they would not have said within a Labour Party context in the past.”

What is to be done next? The big proposal being pushed by the JLM at the Labour Party Conference in two weeks’ time is to get the party to change its rules so that those found guilty of anti-Semitism are not merely suspended, but auto-excluded. I ask Newmark whether he’s confident this will be accepted by the party when it meets in Brighton. “No, I’m not confident”, Newmark laments. “We were given assurances last year from the leader himself last year that it would be adopted and recommended as an NEC constitutional amendment, but that didn’t happen, which is why it’s had to come back as a standalone text this year. Our preference would still be for this to come through as a constitutional amendment in 2017. It would send through a consistent message and would in many ways be a culmination of the (inquiries we’ve so far had into the matter).”

Newmark has to spend so much of his time tackling anti-Semitism that I’m keen to know what he thinks about the remainder of Labour Party politics. Newmark was, after all, a parliamentary candidate at the last general election, increasing Labour’s share of the vote by 4.1% in Finchley and Golders Green and nearly unseating the sitting Tory MP, Mike Freer. So, I ask Newmark for his broader views about the state of the Labour Party more generally. “The big disappointment in not winning the was that our manifesto appealed to a cross-section of the public, but our inability to present a united front made it impossible for enough people to bite the bullet and vote Labour. But the leadership question has been settled”, Newmark affirms.

So, what’s next for the JLM? “Our attitude stems from the slogan of early Jewish Labour members and Jewish trade unionists. At Cable Street, in the face of racism and discrimination, we refused to run away. That’s the right attitude towards these things. I understand why people would want to leave the party. I get it. I’m sensitive to it. One of the roles that JLM has played is as a last chance saloon. We have people who have resigned their party membership but have kept their affiliate status by remaining a member of JLM. We have also been successful in recruiting people as JLM members who haven’t yet joined the party because they can’t under the current scenario, but who do have a solid Labour value compass.”

As we draw to a close, Newmark tells me, “It’s a difficult time. We have to work our way through it. And this is where he declares, “Our response has been to stay, to stand and to fight.” On that defiant note, we wrap up, my admiration for Newmark and the JLM as great as it has ever been. This is a hard time to be Labour and Jewish, but with hard times come opportunities to remind the nation what true Labour values look like. In Newmark and the JLM, those in the Labour Party with decent moral instincts have an undoubted rally point, and rally to them we shall.

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Remembering Lord Joffe

It is with sadness that the Jewish Labour Movement has learnt of the death of Lord Joffe. Generations of progressive Jews have drawn inspiration from his unceasing work for social justice, from representing Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia trial to his chairmanship of Oxfam, and will continue to do so. We wish his family strength at this time and send our sincerest condolences.

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Ken Livingstone not expelled from Labour

JLM Statement

Last night's National Constitutional Committee decision on Ken Livingstone was the ultimate betrayal of the "zero tolerance on antisemitism" that John McDonnell spoke about. A one year suspension from holding office within the Party is completely insufficient. It is a betrayal of our Party's values. This suspension allows for a revolving door for repeat offenders, whereby they make deeply hurtful and offensive comments and expect to resume normal political activity if they sit quietly for a year.  Ken Livingstone has openly, publicly and repeatedly revised the history of the Holocaust, and caused untold pain and anguish to members of the UK Jewish community and Holocaust survivors. 

You can see a video message from JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark here, and a brief clip of him on Sky News giving immediate reaction to the decision here

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JLM on BBC Radio 4 Today Programme

JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark was on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme this morning. In it, he made clear that should Ken Livingstone not be disciplined by the NCC, then JLM, with support from Labour activists across the country, will be taking this to Labour's highest decision making body, National Party Conference this September. 

You can hear this full statement here.

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Messages of support for JLM's AGM

Sunday 2nd April marked JLM's 109th AGM. We were honoured to receive messages of support from the leadership of the Labour Party in both the UK and Israel. We'd like to thank them all for their leadership and support of JLM. 

Leader of the Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn MP

Deputy Leader of the Labour Party: Tom Watson MP

General Secretary of the Labour Party: Iain McNicol

Leader of the Israeli Labour Party: Isaac Herzog MK

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OWEN JONES TELLS JEWISH LABOUR MEMBERS - PARTY MUST ACT ON LIVINGSTONE & WALKER

OWEN JONES TELLS JEWISH LABOUR MEMBERS - PARTY MUST ACT ON LIVINGSTONE & WALKER

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Inaugural Henry Smith Memorial Lecture a massive success

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