This week the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee refused to pass the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and instead decided they knew better than the Jewish community how to define their oppression. I have watched in despair as members have posted pictures of their cut-up membership cards proclaiming that for them enough is enough. I understand why – I have thought about doing the same thing myself many times over the past few months, but I will not. I will not let the anti-Semites have a free pass.
This is a stain on the history of a party that I have always loved, the party that delivered the NHS and the welfare state, once the party of equality. However, the fight for the soul of the Labour Party is not over yet. Those who think it’s not the same party they once loved are fundamentally wrong - our values remain and you only have to look at the work of our socialist societies and many of our MPs to know that.
However, if those in the party who think saying “British Jews have more allegiance to Israel than the UK” is not anti-Semitism and those who believe a Jewish MP should be disciplined for calling out anti-Semitism, then it won’t be the same party anymore. I can’t and won’t justify that.
Despite not being in government, the Labour Party is the official opposition and with that comes significant power and influence. If Labour do get into government at the next election, I don’t want it to be led by people who refuse to let Jews define their own oppression, who disregard the concerns of minority groups and who disregard a widely-accepted definition of oppression for purely political reasons. Letting those people have power is dangerous, for the future of our party, but more importantly, for the future of our country, and the safety of the Jews who live here.
Leaving the party won’t change its problem with anti-Semitism, in fact by allowing those who have made these decisions and hold these views to stay in power, anti-Semitism will only become more of a problem. Really, the anti-Semites are the only ones to benefit when people leave over anti-Semitism.
Members of Labour’s National Executive Committee who voted against implementing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in full, having members who disagree with their decision giving up their vote in the next NEC election, only benefits them. I certainly don’t want the people who voted against the IHRA definition representing me on Labour’s NEC. In fact, I don’t want them anywhere near power. The best way to challenge anti-Semitism in the party is to vote against those who create an environment that allows it to flourish. So, when ballots drop in the NEC elections next week I’ll be voting for the candidates who pledge to implement the IHRA definition in full. And when I get a chance to raise my voice, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jewish members against anti-Semitism, I will take that opportunity every time.
I’m staying to fight for the soul of party I love, and you should too.