Labour must be the party of equality again

Cate Vallis, who is standing for election to the National Policy Forum, says the Labour Party’s decision not to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism flies in the face of our party’s values.

 

When I joined the Labour Party I made a conscious choice to join a party that held the same values as I did. A party that valued equality, social justice and opportunities for all.

The NEC has decided to change the definition of anti-Semitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition to one that says it is not anti-Semitic to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations; that it is not anti-Semitic to compare Israel to Nazi Germany; and that it is not anti-Semitic to argue that the idea of a state for Jewish people is a racist endeavour. This flies in the face of the principles of the party that I proudly joined.

I would like to ask all members in Scotland standing for the NEC, NPF and SPF this summer – do you agree with the decision that means that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism does not apply to party members? Whilst NPF and SPF candidates would not have a chance to vote on organisational proposals it is important to know where candidates stand on equality as it will inform their approach to policy.

Myself, Suzan King, Adam Wilson and Moh Fern Hirani are standing to be your NPF representatives on, amongst other things, a platform of promoting friendly debate across Labour, encouraging members from across the party to input ideas and get involved in discussions and, most importantly, ensuring every member feels listened to and valued so that they are comfortable enough to contribute their experience to the policy making process.

If elected to represent Scottish Labour members on the National Policy Forum we will fight tooth and nail to prevent any Labour manifesto from seeking to change the UK government’s position on recognising the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

I am ashamed of our party’s decision to do away with the IHRA definition as used by the Scottish and UK Governments, the Crown Prosecution Service and local authorities up and down the country, but I know that this relatively small group of individuals who make up a majority of the NEC are not the party. Our party always has been and still is its members, members from across the trade union movement and society united by the values of equality, social justice and opportunities for all.

It is too easy to complain online; it is much harder to organise internally and return the party to the party of equality that attracted many members to join. Members who want to see the Labour Party be the party of equality again must organise at every level, to make sure that the people who represent us at the top of the party are truly representative of our values. To any members who are disgusted by the NEC’s decision – don’t get mad, get organised.

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22 thoughts on “Labour must be the party of equality again

  1. You chose to join a party that had given up even pretending to be a party of equality social justice and opportunities for all so I think you joined the Labour party for the exact same reasons all its recent new members join to self serve and develop a personal career.
    Its the ONLY thing that makes sense when you look at it.

  2. “The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which is increasingly being adopted or considered by western governments, is worded in such a way as to be easily adopted or considered by western governments to intentionally equate legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with antisemitism, as a means to suppress the former.
    This conflation undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against antisemitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal standards of human rights and international law.”

    This is an extract from a recent article published on the website Jewish Voice for Labour’ (https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/blog/global-jewish-statement-on-defining-antisemitism/) and signed by,

    Academia4equality (Israel)
    Boycott from Within (Israeli citizens for BDS)
    Coalition of Women for Peace (Israel)
    Collectif Judéo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine (Strasbourg, France)
    Dayenu: New Zealand Jews Against Occupation (New Zealand)
    Een Ander Joods Geluid (A Different Jewish Voice) (The Netherlands)
    Een Andere Joodse Stem – Another Jewish Voice (Flanders, Belgium)
    European Jews for a Just Peace
    Free Speech on Israel (UK)
    Gate48 – critical Israelis in the Netherlands
    Independent Jewish Voices (Canada)
    Independent Jewish Voices (UK)
    International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
    Italian Network of Jews Against the Occupation
    Jewish Anti-Fascist Action Berlin (Germany)
    Jewish Socialists’ Group (UK)
    Jewish Voice For Labour (UK)
    Jewish Voice for Peace (USA)
    Jewish Voice for Peace members in London (UK)
    Jews Against Fascism (Melbourne, Australia)
    Jews for Justice for Palestinians (UK)
    Jews for Palestinian Right of Return (USA)
    Jews of Color & Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in Solidarity w/ Palestine (USA)
    Jews Say No! (USA)
    JIPF – Judar för Israelisk Palestinsk Fred (Sweden)
    Jüdische Stimme für gerechten Frieden im Nahost e.V. (Germany)
    Junts, Associació Catalana de Jueus i Palestins (Catalonia, Spain)
    Los Otros Judíos (Argentina)
    Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine (UK)
    Quebrando Muros – Judeus Brasileiros Pela Descolonização da Palestina (Brazil)
    SEDQ Network- A Global Jewish Network for Justice
    South African Jewish Voices for a Just Peace (South Africa)
    South African Jews for a Free Palestine (South Africa)
    Union des progressistes juifs de Belgique (Saint-Gilles, Belgium)
    United Jewish People’s Order (UJPO)-Canada
    Union Juive Française pour la Paix (France)
    Workman’s Circle, Boston (USA)

  3. Well Cate you have caused a storm keep it up .
    2 years ago I went to an author event in my local library .I don’t normally it was packed and to my surprise my neighbours were there .
    The Author was promoting her book about what happened to her mother during the Holocaust her mother escaped with a friend from the train taking them to the camp .Her friend died .
    Her mum and her daughter after the war moved from camp to camp before coming to Britain after the war in a Government programme .
    She spoke of the problems they had as German Jews they had with the locals.
    I put the telly on one night and discovered there was an Anti Semitism problem in my party the Labour party .
    I did not know what the word meant I had to ask yes we should sign up and all party members told what and why we have signed up
    Recently I have seen in the press apart from the situation in the USA regarding Mexicans .
    In Denmark plans to make what are called non Danish Mothers send their children as young as 1 to at least 25 hrs a week culture and language classes .IF they don’t they could lose their benefits .
    A plan to speed up the recruitment of an extra 10thousand EU border guards to keep out migrants .
    Todays paper authorities in the region of lower Austria are looking at ways of making Jews register to buy Kosher meat .
    This we are told is to stop ritual butchering without anaesthesia
    We as a society have deep problems and Scotland is not immune
    So good luck

    1. And you think examples such as these can legitimately be used to either deflect or degrade criticism of Israeli Government fascism? The Israeli Government has officially declared Israel a State of Apartheid an Apartheid state that imposes its foreign affairs with the use of military force encouraged no doubt by the examples set by the US and UK.
      To be fair to Labour the accusations of anti Semitism are wilfully exaggerated because many members express open criticism of Israeli Government fascism and many members try to highlight the plight of Palestinians. Labour as an organisation are no more anti Semitic than any other organisation that doesn’t have anti Semitism as their primary passion. Israeli fascists will happily use the accusation of anti Semitism to deflect and degrade legitimate Israeli Government criticism as if everything the do they do in the name of Judaism and not fascism. That’s to be expected but where do people get off helping promote this level of deceit and deflection by bringing up examples of unrelated anti Semitism whenever an example of Israeli Government fascism manifests itself?

  4. Then a bill that enshrines the principle that Israel is a Jewish state has been passed .Opponents say it is racist .They say that it makes Israeli Arabs a fifth of the population second class citizens .
    The bill also downgrades Arabic from an official language to special status .

    1. Not only opponents but the very definition of what is and what isn’t an Apartheid state does as well.

  5. Why not have a ballot of the whole of the Labour Party membership to vote on the proposed change that would be democratic. Personally l don’t think the definition should be changed.

  6. The IHRA wilfully fails to protect any anti Semitism being directed at Arab and Muslim Semites it is very specific and narrowly exclusive to Jews and as such is Apartheid by its very nature. Anybody supporting it will of course be endorsing and promoting the ideal of Apartheid.

    Go Labour.

  7. Mike
    I did not think this would happen but I agree with you .
    Also for me at the last EU referendum it was almost exclusively focused on immigration .
    The far right were demonstrating in London last week I think it was .
    Germany Austria its all breaking out again .
    In Scotland we need people to come and work here and yes for me Brexit has changed everything so devolve immigration to Holyrood and while we are at it Wales as well

  8. Just seen this Facebook Posts denying the holocaust took place will not be removed automatically
    Mark Zuckerman although he finds holocaust denial deeply offensive
    He does not think they are intentionally getting it wrong

  9. Cate, the IHRA definition has been condemned by leading law experts Hugh Tomlinson QC and retired Lord Justice of Appeal Sir Stephen Sedley as “too vague to be useful” and because conduct contrary to the definition is not necessarily illegal. They warn that public bodies are under no obligation to adopt it and, if they do, they must interpret it in a way that’s consistent with their statutory obligations and the European Convention on Human Rights, which provides for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

    Crucially, freedom of expression applies not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that “offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population” – unless they encourage violence, hatred or intolerance. Calling Israel an apartheid state or advocating BDS against Israel cannot properly be characterized as anti-Semitic. Any public authority seeking to apply the IHRA definition to prohibit or punish “would be acting unlawfully”.

    The right of free expression is now part of UK domestic law by virtue of the Human Rights Act. Also, the 1986 Education Act established an individual right of free expression in all higher education institutions. Then there’s Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which gives everyone “the right to freedom of opinion and expression… without interference”.

    So the IHRA definition as it stands is not something a sane organisation would incorporate into its Code of Conduct.

  10. Cate, you’re not getting much help from this thread.

    Re-reading what you’ve written, why do you want to get embroiled in this? It doesn’t matter whether HM Government or any other organisation has adopted the IHRA definition, they’ll have more trouble than it’s worth trying to impose it or punish people with it – for reasons I explained earlier.

    If you want to mire yourself in the controversy, go ahead. Otherwise re-write your election address. And do some research to understand what so-called anti-Semitism is all about and who the real Semites are. Then you’ll be able to educate the nitwits who are keeping this unpleasant nonsense on the boil.

  11. Exactly Stuart
    Was in the Burns shopping centre in Kilmarnock today
    When a man approached me and said I know you are Labour yous need to investigate Alec Salmond how much money is he on .
    3 houses you know is he Jewish not that it matters but Salmond is a Jewish name you know .
    I said don’t care about his faith and don’t know anyway .
    I also said he is not elected so his wage is his affair .
    Never been asked anything like that before was shocked by it .
    Is this what its coming to

    1. Its not a case of “Is this what its coming to”, its actually BEEN here for quite some time. Despite repeated claims to the contrary, there is a very dark side to Unionism that is actively hidden by politicians and ignored by the media. Indeed, the media and politicians are often active in perpetrating falsehoods and misrepresentations about the pro-indy movement and its leading lights. Project Fear did not go away after 2014.

  12. Thank you for your comment Bungo
    I would ask don’t smear everyone who voted remain in 14 .
    Project Fear to me includes the attack on the Priest during the Glasgow Orange Order Parade .People worrying about how to cope and using foodbanks .Project fear is businesses going out of business on a daily basis Over 2thousand lost their jobs in 1 day .I went into a shop in Kilmarnock today it was owned by Poundworld staff said no hope for them and no help from any of the political parties .
    And not a lot of sympathy from customers that’s project fear .Like me receiving a DWP letter scared to open it that’s project fear .And we cant go to citizens advice they have pulled out of North Ayrshire
    Look at tv programmes like on benefits and proud of it mainly on ch5
    Universal Credit I am not on it that big a mess its unbelievable we are not out on the streets protesting .
    You need a computer if you don’t have one or don’t know how to use one go to the library and learn then use library public computers .Peoples benefits that far behind they lose everything that’s project fear .
    The DWP the system that overloaded they are no longer checking it so I got a computer generated letter telling me unless I provided this years bank balance which they received the day before the letter was sent they would cut my ESA benefit off that’s project fear .
    I am on an ill health retirement package Oxygen min 15hrs a day no choice its why I am in receipt of benefit .
    I found out how overloaded the system was when I phoned the operator said they cant cut you off unless they manually check the system and it is recorded that I sent my documents .
    Then I got another DWP letter fill in a huge form might have to go for a work capability test .
    OK so I phoned the council told them I need help a woman from DWP came to my house she helped then told me its only a form I said its my life .
    She said any dates in the next 3 months you cant attend for an interview if needed I gave her my diary its full of doctor and hospital appointments .
    Maybe that’s why on Saturday I got another DWP letter telling me they agree with my Consultant I wont work again but will revue in November
    Project Fear was in full flow during the EU referendum campaign all those stories we will be overrun by refugees Take our country back even the word Brexit which for me is a total disaster people not knowing if they can stay here after Brexit that’s Project fear Now we hear plans are being drawn up to distribute and hoard food ecetra and use the armed forces that’s project fear .
    Unbelievable Boris and Nigel don’t appear to have had a plan about what to do the day after Brexit
    I think they should be held to account
    Just heard on CH4 news 17 documents that David Davis wanted published 6 months ago will come out next month during the Hols and no plan to use the army . OK
    Yes Brexit vote leave money a scandal for me there is now a case to go to court for a rerun.
    Bungo none of this is aimed at you
    But attacks on INDY leaders
    Their own worst enemies I did not know for example that Alec Salmond had a show on RT until John Swinney and Nicola attacked his decision to do it
    Then yesterday Ian Blackford in a 2 page interview with Kenny Farquorson gave his version of events of his dealings with Alec Salmond when Ian was SNP Treasurer why
    Also on BBC news Serco are going to change the locks to the homes of asylum seekers in Glasgow this will make them homeless SNP Labour and Greens have contacted the UK Government .
    And in ch4 news there appears to be an attempt by Glasgow Council to relocate travelling people from their homes in the Govan area that’s project fear alive and well in Scotland in 2018

  13. PS I read and email the National I like to see what other people with different opinions to mine think .
    I am seriously thinking of voting yes if we have another Indy ref .
    I will make my own mind up wont listen to any political party but if any one who contributes to the letters page reads this stop Using phrases like English settlers here with a vote Brit Nat squatters in our Parliament a foreign country called England .
    And occupying forces that’s just some of it.
    And when and if Nicola decides to go for it .
    And you get out from behind your computers .
    And go canvassing you will get a shock when people and they will tell you what they think of all our parties leaders
    and what you can do with your favourite not very important policies

    1. David, what has any of this to do with Cate’s problem? It’s no help to her if you change the subject and talk about Indyref.

      Cate, it’s usefujl to remember that the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee recommended adoption of the IHRA definition subject to the inclusion of two caveats:
      (1) It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
      (2) It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.

      The Government dropped the caveats saying they weren’t necessary. Consequently the definition has been condemned by legal experts. The NEC has taken note and is trying not to be railroaded into doing something silly.

  14. Thanks for your comment Stuart
    I was trying to answer Bungo The point I made about comments in the National was me trying to point out that English Settlers with a vote here Is just as bad as anti Semitism

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