Row as Jewish Labour Movement is replaced as party's anti-semitism training provider

Posted On: 
12th March 2019

A row has broken out after it emerged the Jewish Labour Movement will no longer provide anti-semitism training for party members.

Jewish groups protest against anti-semitism in Labour last year.
Credit: 
PA Images

Party bosses have confirmed that the courses will be provided by academics at Birkbeck in the University of London.

The move comes just days after the JLM, Labour's longest-standing affiliate body, agreed not to immediately sever its ties with the party.

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And it follows the Equalities and Human Rights Commission's decision to explore whether Labour has been guilty of anti-Jewish discrimination.

In a letter to the JLM last week, Labour general secretary Jennie Formby addressed the issue of education for party members on what constitutes anti-Jewish racism.

"This is such an important issue and one that is key in ensuring that all our members have an understanding of anti-semitism," she said.

"As discussed previously, JLM is an extremely important and valued affiliate but your members are volunteers.

"We have therefore been in discussion with a highly-respected academic institution, which has agreed to develop a short course in anti-semitism.

"This will form part of their portfolio of courses and will be available to anyone interested in this important subject. We welcome this educational initiative and we will be enrolling staff, NEC and NCC members on this course as soon as it becomes available.

"There will of course be consultation with Jewish communal organisations before this is implemented."

In a statement, the JLM - which has provided training to Labour branches and staff for the past three years - said it had been approached by "hundreds of people" in the past few weeks about its courses.

"In the past, the party has said that they wish to deliver a “gold standard” antisemitism training programme," the body said. "We cannot accept the suggestion that the party knows better than its Jewish affiliate, or the Jewish community what constitutes anti-semitism.

"Particularly when in recent days press reports have demonstrated the party has failed time and again to identify clear cases of antisemitism, with senior members of the Leader of the Opposition's Office directly intervening in disciplinary cases.

"Whilst the Equalities and Human Rights Commission explore our referral of the Labour party for institutional racism, we cannot in good faith continue to provide our training whilst the party seek to undermine our role in this way.

"We will shortly be writing to all CLPs and organisations where training is currently scheduled to suspend our involvement.

"The party leadership have a choice. They can either address the concerns of its Jewish affiliate and those of the Jewish community. Alternatively, they can continue to act in a reckless and damaging way."

The JLM will formally ballot its members next month on whether to disaffiliate from the party after nearly 100 years.