Antisemitism is Labour’s Achilles heel and the Party needs to stop fighting itself and unite. Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Leader, settled a legal claim on Thursday, paying six figure sums in compensation to Labour Party staff tasked with investigating complaints of antisemitism. The High Court upheld the claim that staff efforts to deal with specifically antisemitic complaints were blocked by senior party members within the Labour Party.
This case is an important step towards eradicating antisemitism which has blighted the party for at least twenty years, if not more. But the counter-allegations are coming in thick and fast from Mr Corbyn and his supporters on the left, many of whom support the Palestinian cause. Tragically, Labour continues to fight itself, not the Conservatives and it’s the Labour Party who is paying the price.
A Labour government set up the independent Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) back in 2007. It’s currently investigating the Party’s handling of antisemitism complaints but the leaked internal Labour dossier into antisemitism has not been shared with EHRC – a grave mistake.
On Thursday 23 July, Labour lost control of Brighton and Hove City Council to the Green Party following the resignation of two Labour Councillors because of antisemitism. In the last week, Councillors Kate Knight and Nichole Brennan have both left the Labour Party and are now standing as Independent Councillors and Councillor Pissaridou has been suspended.
It means the Green Party currently form the largest group on the council with 19 seats, Labour hold 18 seats, the conservatives have 13 seats and there are four Independent Councillors. No party has a majority on Brighton Council and, as is often the case, there is no overall control. It was the Conservative Group that called on Councillor Nancy Platts, to resign as Leader.
Cllr Kate Knight resigned from the Labour Party last Monday 20 July after sharing posts on social media that accused Israel of campaigning against Jeremy Corbyn. She will continue to sit as an Independent Councillor representing constituents of Moulsecoomb and Bevendean.
Secondly, Labour Councillor, Nichole Brennan, was under investigation since April for demonstrating in 2018 against the party’s adoption of a wider ranging definition of antisemitism and then describing criticism of her actions as “white supremacy.” She too resigned from the Labour Party earlier this week and is standing as an Independent Councillor.
Eleven days ago, Councillor Anne Pissaridou was suspended on Tuesday 14 July but she has not yet resigned the Labour Party whip. She has resigned as Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee.
Ms Pissaridou posted antisemitic content on social media from conspiracy theory websites. The cartoon implies that banker Sir Jacob Rothschild is behind the impending collapse of the world’s bank while Germans are told to stockpile food.
She also shared another conspiracy theory post in August 2018 with the headline: ‘Jewish Israeli journalist claims pro-Israel propagandists have ‘taken out a contract’ to stop Jeremy Corbyn being elected.’
Councillor Pissaridou has apologised to the Jewish community for her posts and said the posts, which she did not read properly before sharing, do not reflect her views.
All three of these councillors were Momentum supporters although they were all selected by Brighton and Hove Constituency Labour Parties.
Even Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Labour’s MP for Brighton Kemptown stood down from the Shadow frontbench ten days ago following a comment in a letter written in 2009, before he became an MP, that Zionism was, ‘a dangerous nationalist idea.’
He said when this comment came to light, it led to a torrent of right-wing online abuse and harassment by telephone against him and his staff which made his position as a shadow minister untenable.