This I think is the final straw for me. It’s an email from the General Secretary of the Labour Party, David Evans, to Constituency branches, telling them what topics branches can and cannot discuss.
‘This will ensure that the business your local party is conducting is appropriate, minimises any challenge to its decisions and does not leave the party – locally and nationally – or its officers open to potential legal liabilities.’
A number of topics are covered in the email, some of them procedural; but the main ones refer to the recent debate on ‘anti-semitism’ in the party. It’s the last that concerns me most. The IHRA ‘definition’ of antisemitism is, in the minds of most scholars, highly flawed, and by seeming to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israeli governments has done untold and unmerited damage to the reputation of the Jewish community among many Labour members and supporters. Now however we are told that we aren’t allowed even to discuss it.
Here’s that last instruction.
IHRA definition of antisemitism
We are aware that some CLPs and branches have had motions tabled to “repudiate” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The IHRA definition of antisemitism and its examples was properly adopted by the Labour Party in September 2018. CLPs and branches have no powers to overturn this decision. Furthermore, such motions undermine the Labour Party’s ability to tackle racism. Any such motions are therefore not competent business for CLPs or branches.
As per the previous general secretary’s instruction, any discussion about ongoing disciplinary cases remains prohibited.
This was obviously done under pressure – real or imagined – from what might be called the ‘Israel lobby’ and its press supporters. But whatever the provocation, I’m afraid I can no longer remain a member of a party that curbs civilised free speech in this way. This blog has probably made me liable to expulsion in any case; but I’ll save the party the trouble.
Where I’m to go to now I can’t tell. I no longer have a political home in Britain. As a demi-Swede I may try Vänsterpartiet here: formerly the Communists, but now the closest to Corbyn’s and Attlee’s party I can find anywhere. Of course I’ll still vote Labour in England, and wish Keir Starmer well; but he can have my membership card (of 50 years) back.