JVL Submission to EHRC on Labour’s Action Plan

by Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

JVL Submission to EHRC on Labour’s Action Plan

by Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL
Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL
Case Owner
To request that the EHRC takes action on the Labour Party's application of the Action Plan to remedy the disproportionate targeting of Jewish members
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To request that the EHRC takes action on the Labour Party's application of the Action Plan to remedy the disproportionate targeting of Jewish members
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Latest: Feb. 8, 2024

Response to LP on Jewish cases

Our lawyers have written again to the Labour Party to follow up on  our preliminary concerns about various breaches of the Equality Act 2010 which we raised back in August 2023 and for which we …

Read more

JVL submitted a letter of complaint to the EHRC via our solicitors – Bindmans LLP – making it clear that the Labour Party Action Plan in response to the EHRC report has failed to consider or reflect the views of the breadth of ‘Jewish stakeholders’ and Party policy “would appear to be having the opposite effect to that which was intended; namely the exacerbation as opposed to elimination of the mistreatment of Jewish members by the Party”.

We pointed out that “the Party is disproportionately targeting and disciplining Jewish members that question the Party’s interpretation of antisemitism, as compared with non-Jewish members”.

The EHRC have responded: As you are aware, the Action Plan requires the Labour Party to take steps to implement the recommendations set out in our Report and they are required by law to comply with the Action Plan. We are actively monitoring the implementation and progress of the Action Plan. … In the meantime, we would welcome any further submissions from your client in respect of the matters within the Action Plan”.

We are now making this further submission (link below).  JVL points out that there have, up to now, at least  41 Jewish members investigated for antisemitism with 49  investigations (some Jews have faced more than one investigation ) and 5 auto-exclusions as a population share. As far as we can ascertain over five times more Jewish than non-Jewish Party members have been investigated in relation to allegations of antisemitism.

There is a particular concentration on visible JVL activists as ten of the current eleven JVL Executive officers have now been accused of ‘antisemitism’ and 38 of the 41 Jewish members investigated are members of JVL.  

This has resulted in a level of persecution many times higher for JVL officers and  for rank-and-file members of JVL than for non-Jewish party member.

JVL considers that the disproportionate targeting of Jews, with the spurious and offensive charges of ‘antisemitism’ arise from the Party’s recognition that our questioning of the Party’s interpretation carries some weight.   There is some indication that this is a planned policy of purging dissenting Jewish voices.

The Party’s deliberate attempts to exclude JVL from its ongoing engagement with Jewish communities is deeply unfair and amounts to discrimination of a subset of Jews on the basis, for instance, of their philosophical and political beliefs regarding Israel and Palestine and their concerns about the Party’s interpretation of antisemitism. Such potential discrimination, arising after the EHRC investigation and Report, is indicative of the Party’s increased hostility towards certain Jewish Party members, which is directly contrary to the intended outcome of the Report.

An additional form of this targeting of Jews is the quoting or sharing of articles by Jews as evidence of antisemitism in members’ charges.   (Link: Why on earth is citing me antisemitic? – asks Jewish blogger Robert A.H. Cohen)

JVL has made it clear in our document on antisemitic misconduct (Link: What is – and what is not – antisemitic misconduct) that conduct is antisemitic only if it manifests ‘prejudice, hostility or hatred against Jews as Jews’.

The Party has ignored this document and instead currently has three guidance note on antisemitisms - the Code in Appendix 9 Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and Other Forms of Racism the NEC Code of Conduct on antisemitism and the IHRA. These last two documents run consecutively in the Complaints Handling Handbook with no explanation of how these forms of guidance can be applied. The Party has also ignored the important Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism, supported by over 200 scholars in the fields of Holocaust history, Jewish studies, and Middle East studies, which simply and effecively states:Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).”

The Party is applying a ‘blanket’ charge that is legally weak if not unprovable: “Undermines the Party’s ability to campaign against AS”.  This applies where the only ‘offence’ is questioning the public perception of the scale of complaints of antisemitism against LP members. But more widely this is applied to any criticism or questioning of the Party’s so called campaign. It is frequently accompanied by other charges and often the correspondence is aggressive in tone from the start.

We intend to draw the EHRC’s attention to the Party’s disproportionate targeting of Jewish members in relation to the Action Plan and request the EHRC take action on this harsh treatment of so many Jewish members.

Engaging legal advisors to put forward our submission is costly but we think the principles are worth fighting for.

We are aware that there are many demands on our supporters’ pockets. But we ask that you donate to this action if you can and share the link to this page widely with all your relevant networks.

Thank you.

Link to relevant articles on JVL website:  

JVL Intro and link to full submission (within article): https://www.<wbr>jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/<wbr>statement/jvl-third-<wbr>submission-to-the-ehrc/

2021.https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/how-labours-claim-of-countering-antisemitism-has-resulted-in-a-purge-of-jews/

https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/supplementary-submission-by-jvl-to-the-ehrc-and-the-forde-inquiry/


Update 12

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Feb. 8, 2024

Response to LP on Jewish cases

Our lawyers have written again to the Labour Party to follow up on  our preliminary concerns about various breaches of the Equality Act 2010 which we raised back in August 2023 and for which we only heard back from the Party in in  December 2023! We have sent a copy of this redacted letter to the EHRC pointing out the lack of transparency within the Labour Party’s processes.

Our lawyers have informed the Party that they have ignored, misinterpreted or misunderstood our evidence of unlawful discrimination and harassment.

We point out that they have failed to:

  • consider the lengthy delays Jewish members have experienced in response to their appeals;
  • take into account that 28 out of the 29 complaints of antisemitic abuse made by Jewish members were not investigated;
  • provide any explanation to mitigate the punitive conduct towards Stephen Marks, Pam Blakelock and the late Michael Howard. Nor have they engaged with concerns raised regarding misquoting Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi or the lack of action taken to Diana Neslen’s complaints of receiving antisemitic abuse and the lack of any response to Diana’s complaint of bullying and harassment by the Party;
  • inform Andrew Feinstein for more than 2 years that they were not pursuing his investigation, for which the delay amounts to punishment akin to disciplinary action;
  • explain how Richard Kuper was disciplined for a statement suggesting that antisemitism in the Party was exaggerated thereby “doubting the findings of the EHRC” when his statement was made 2 years before the EHRC investigation even started.

Our letter also points out that our submitted statistical data regarding increased likelihood of Jewish members being investigated and excluded for antisemitism was on the conservative side rather than being self-selective as the Party states. Our explanation of these statistics reveals that, from all the information available, Jews are being discriminated against (hugely) in all aspects of Labour’s disciplinary action.

We have requested clarification of who any third party complaints relate to and have pointed out that they need to explain their decisions not to investigate our members’ complaints.

Our letter reminds the Party that our overriding aim is to have them change the practices leading to unlawful treatment of Jewish members, since these practices undermine the Party’s proper commitment to the elimination of antisemitism.

We will continue to challenge the Labour Party on their mistreatment of our members. An update on Stephen Marks’ case will follow later this month. 

Here is a link to the very significant victory for the protected belief argument in David Miller’s employment law case.

https://www.rllaw.co.uk/rahman-lowe-secures-landmark-victory-in-employment-case-for-professor-david-miller-against-bristol-university/

Legal advice is expensive and we know that there are many financial pressures, but please donate if you are able to and please share widely.

Update 11

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Jan. 17, 2024

John McDonnell MP writes to Keir Starmer

John McDonnell has again put it to Keir Starmer that as leader he should take responsibility for the shockingly harsh impact of the Party’s disciplinary treatment on many Jewish Labour Party members accused of antisemitism.

This is evidenced by a legal challenge citing breaches of the Equality Act in relation to Stephen Marks (see a previous update).

We continue to challenge the Labour Party on its unjust treatment of members. We are still awaiting a reply to the pre-action  letter on behalf of JVL on Stephen Marks’s experience of direct discrimination and harassment.

We are also responding to the Labour Party on the wider case of Jews like us being targeted for so called ‘antisemitism’ and will let you know more about this soon.

So far McDonnell has not received any response to his email. See his letter below.


We know there are many important claims on your funds at this time, but it is vital that the conflation by the Labour Party of criticism of Israel and anti-Zionism with antisemitism is exposed and the EHRC informed each time of Labour's unfair and unjust disciplinary processes. So please donate towards these legal actions if you can and share on all your networks.


Sent: 18 December 2023 11:57
To: STARMER, Keir <[email protected]>
Subject: Treatment of Jewish Members of the Party

Dear Keir,

You may recall that I wrote to you on 22th July expressing my concern at the treatment by the party of Jewish members, in particular the members of Jewish Voice for Labour, (JVL). This was further to the findings of the Forde report that you commissioned.

In my correspondence to you and David Evans I wrote the following:

“I am strongly recommending that, as part of demonstrating the seriousness of the Party’s intent to address the Forde Report’s concerns, both of you should address the treatment of the group, Jewish Voice for Labour, by the Party.

The treatment of this group and many of its members by the Party has been disregarding, disrespectful, at times uncaring, even brutal, and, some have argued, has amounted to discrimination. ………………..

The Report (by Martin Forde KC ) has evidenced that the Party’s disciplinary procedures have been used to target specific individuals for factional purposes. Shockingly the Report confirms that this has been used to exclude people from a ballot, in other words, for ballot rigging purposes. ……………..

The evidence of the disproportionate number of members of JVL being disciplined, suspended and expelled from the Party must add to the Forde concerns that the Party’s disciplinary process has not been fair and has indeed been open to abuse for factional purposes.”

Your response to my email was to refer it to the General Secretary on the basis that the disciplinary procedure was an independent process that you had no role in as leader of the party.

I find that difficult to accept because as leader of the party you clearly have a role in ensuring all the party’s activities and procedures are fair and above board and you are also a member of the National Executive Committee, which is charged with the management of the party and its behaviour and processes.

I am writing to you again as regrettably matters have moved on and I have been informed that a legal action has commenced against the party specifically concerning the treatment of a Jewish party member, who is a member of JVL.

I have attached a copy of the letter of claim that has been sent to the Labour Party, which has been published.

I am sure that like me, you will be concerned about the impact of the party’s action on the health and wellbeing of Stephen Marks, who has been an active and dedicated member of our party for so many years.

My view is that the party should do all it can to avoid damaging Stephen Marks’ health any further and therefore should address the worrying issues raised in the letter from Bindmans.

My fear is that there are others who have suffered similar health problems as a result of their treatment at the hands of the party.

I have expressed my concerns to you on several occasions about the use of the party’s disciplinary procedures on party members and indeed on members of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

I recommended that you invite Martin Forde KC to investigate once again the party’s treatment of its members and the role and impact of the disciplinary process.

In view of the strong concerns expressed to you by so many members recently and in the light of this threatened legal action I believe that this approach is even more necessary and urgently needed.

I would welcome your views therefore on how you intend to proceed.

Yours,

John

Update 10

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Jan. 2, 2024

Claim against Labour Party lodged with Oxford County Court

This was previously updated in our other CJ case page in December.

We are still awaiting a reply from the Labour Party:

We are supporting a civil claim against the Labour Party by Jewish JVL member Stephen Marks for damages arising out of his suspension on 13th July 2021 which culminated in his expulsion from the Party on 19th December 2022. A copy of this notice has also been sent to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Stephen’s case was included in our submission to the EHRC where we notified them of the trend of disciplinary action in the Labour Party which had affected JVL members disproportionately (see prior updates).

Stephen has been an active member of the Labour Party for over 40 years, having been GC delegate and Political Activities Officer in Hampstead and Highgate CLP in the 1980s and was elected as an Oxfordshire County Councillor between May 1993-97, during which time he became deputy leader of the Labour Group on the Council. In March 2019 he was elected Policy Officer for Oxford Labour, a post he held until March 2021. In 2018 Stephen stood for election in the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) and was re-elected for a three-year term in 2019.

His notice of administrative suspension was based on 3 allegations:

  • On or around 9 July 2016, he signed an open letter titled “Labour Jews to Chuka Umuna – Stop using antisemitism smears against Corbyn”;
  • On 11 April 2017, he signed an open letter titled “145 Labour Party members say ‘I am Jackie Walker’”; and
  • On 4 April 2018, he posted a petition to Facebook titled “Anti-Semitism: Open letter to Jeremy Corbyn and the left on the NEC”.

At the time Stephen was suffering from several medical conditions, made worse by the stress of these allegations and suspension. He had been given 14 days to respond and both he and his wife wrote to the Party requesting an extension due to his health but received no response.

On 23 August 2021, Stephen submitted written representations challenging his administrative suspension in which he wrote:

“I find it quite extraordinary that I am being asked to defend myself against baseless and completely unfounded accusations of being a Jewish antisemite.”

On 19 December 2022, over 15 months later, the National Executive Committee (NEC) Panel issued a Notice of Outcome of Investigation: Expulsion from Membership of the Labour Party. The letter gave him 14 days to appeal the decision (until 2 January 2023).

Stephen emailed an appeal on 6th January 2023 but was informed 6 months later that his appeal had been unsuccessful.

He has two relevant protected characteristics: being Jewish and his anti-Zionist beliefs, which constitute a philosophical belief within the meaning of s10 of the Equality Act. The grounds of claim comprise direct discrimination and harassment.

Stephen remains shocked and distressed by his treatment, being astonished that the fact that he is Jewish appears to have had no part in the Labour Party’s decision-making. His suspension and expulsion have had an enormous negative impact on his life, as he has no longer been able to take part in his regular Party meetings and political activities carried out over 40 years.

By bringing this civil claim, Stephen is seeking an admission of liability and immediate reinstatement as a member of the Party with an apology for alleging that he is antisemitic. He is also seeking damages for breaches of the Equality Act as well as for the pain, suffering and humiliation caused, including the exacerbation of his medical condition due to the stress.

This is the link to the letter on behalf of JVL sent to the Labour Party (redacted).

The Party is being given one month to respond and we will update on their response.


We know there are many claims on your pocket at this time, but if you are able to donate then please give generously and please share on all your networks.

Thank you.

Update 9

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

June 4, 2023

Further legal advice sought

We continue to challenge the ongoing harassment and bullying of left wing Jewish members with allegations of antisemitism. This targeting is increasingly being perceived by those on the receiving end as a form of antisemitism in itself as they appear to be being picked out disproportionately because they are Jews:  Left Wing Jews, or ‘The Wrong Sort of Jews’.

We are seeking further legal advice from lawyers on developing our next steps. The author of the LP Forde Report has suggested that the LP has failed to implement reforms adequately and yet the EHRC has closed its monitoring of the implementation of LP Action Plan as they “are satisfied with the action the Party has taken”. The EHRC itself turned down our FOI request relating to which Jewish organisations were consulted.

One of our Jewish members has recently had her ‘charge’ from 2022 changed from one of “threatening behaviour and harassment” to one of “antisemitism”, with no change of evidence and no apology or explanation. And what was the evidence provided by the Party? That she wrote - in a supposedly secure WhatsApp group - the suggestion that the trawling of social media accounts in order to report members for alleged breaches in the LP rules might have been carried out by Keir Starmer’s appointed “Social Listening and organising manager”.  Assaf Kaplan had previously been part of an Israeli military spying/intelligence unit for nearly 5 years, as reported in the Guardian and therefore quite widely known.

You may have seen the powerful play entitled “The Wrong Sort of Jew” that was performed at the Sands Theatre, Rotherhithe and also streamed live in March this year. It featured actors narrating from the recorded testimonies of several Jewish Labour Party members regarding their backgrounds and experiences both within and without the Party. There is a link below to one section of the performance which highlights many of the issues that we are challenging.

https://youtu.be/nHPBXrrBSWY 

We believe that getting justice for LP members continues to be worthwhile since members continue to be wrongly accused of antisemitism and to be bullied and harassed. Legal consultations are extremely expensive, so we ask that you donate to us if you can and please share on all your networks.

Thank you.

Update 8

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Feb. 22, 2023

Video: Diana Neslen speaks about Labour Party harassment

One of the cases of Labour Party investigations of Jewish members that we have submitted to the EHRC is that of 81 year old Diana Neslen.

Our solicitor recently sent a letter to the EHRC, containing the following:

"Our client does not consider that it has received an adequate response in relation to the claims of bullying made on behalf of Mrs Neslen or the letter sent on 23 December 2022 in relation to the Party’s treatment of Stephen Marks. Our client’s experience is that the Party has not provided an adequate channel for members to express their dissatisfaction even in cases of serious distress. Our client therefore seeks confirmation that the EHRC is taking these members’ mistreatment by the Party into consideration as part of its monitoring processes."

See the JVL statement on the EHRC's failure to respond to their submissions: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/the-ehrc-has-spoken-labour-is-no-place-for-left-wing-jews/


Despite being a practising Jew and active Labour Party member, Diana Neslen was investigated by the Labour Party for antisemitism due to her political views on Israel. 

The Labour Party have since dropped their latest investigation but only after Diana instructed lawyers and fought a long campaign against the party for herself and others harassed and bullied by the Labour Party for their views on Israel.  


Diana says: On a previous charge I was  found guilty  of antisemitism because of  my views on Israel.  It is not the place for Gentiles and Jewish zionists to use the Labour Party's mechanisms to attack Jews whose political beliefs they do not share." 

In this video Diana Neslen speaks about the harassment she and many other Jews like her have faced for being an anti-Zionist.

You can watch the video from this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NBpi7TBVjcg


For further information on the background to Diana's case, please see our other Crowdjustice site: https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-4-labour-party-members/

Please help  support other members like Diana who are similarly being persecuted for their political beliefs.  Legal advice and support is costly so please donate if you can and please share widely.

Thank you.


Update 7

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Feb. 10, 2023

Jewish Voice for Labour, the EHRC and the Labour Party

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has today given Keir Starmer’s Labour Party a clean bill of health regarding the “Action Plan for Driving out Antisemitism” it devised following an EHRC report in October 2020. Here is JVL’s statement in response (links to redacted letter and data are within the statement):

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) considers that the Labour Party’s Action Plan on antisemitism has been satisfactorily delivered.

This news is alarming. Jews like us do not feel safe in Keir Starmer’s Labour Party.

Since mid-2021, Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) has repeatedly alerted the EHRC to the disproportionate targeting of Jewish members of the Labour Party for disciplinary action over allegations of antisemitism.

Ironically, this targeting of Jews seems to be reinforcing the claim for the success of the action plan in the name of combating antisemitism.

We received responses from the EHRC but no indication that our reports made any difference to Labour’s implementation or EHRC monitoring of the Action Plan.

Our most recent letter of 8 February 2023 referred the EHRC to the latest statistics on Jews targeted under Labour’s disciplinary procedures.

JVL is currently aware of fully 60 Jewish Labour Party members targeted.

We estimate that:

  • A full, Jewish member of JVL is at least 37 times more likely to be investigated for antisemitism than an average Labour Party member.
  • A full, Jewish member of JVL is 54 times more likely to be expelled than an average Labour Party member.
  • A full, Jewish member of JVL is 63 times more likely to be auto-excluded (i.e., expelled for supporting a proscribed group) than an average Labour Party member.
  • A JVL Executive Committee member is 462 times more likely to be auto-excluded (i.e., expelled for supporting a proscribed group) than an average Labour Party member.

The campaign against JVL has been relentless. Notably, in 2022, during the Jewish festival of Chanukah, three prominent Jewish members of JVL were expelled from the Party.

These were Naomi Wimborne Idrissi, a JVL Executive Officer, who was thereby prevented from taking up her elected post as the only Jewish member on Labour’s National Executive Committee. Stephen Marks, who had been a prominent voice on Labour’s National Constitution Committee. And Heather Mendick, who worked in Labour’s leadership office in 2019.

More broadly, Jewish members investigated or sanctioned over antisemitism find the experience profoundly oppressive. Indeed, it feels much like antisemitism itself; we feel hated.

Jewish members have been accused on two main counts. First, for challenging the way the Party interprets and purports to eradicate ‘antisemitism’. Second, for criticising the political ideology of Zionism or the State of Israel. But Jews have long disagreed with each other on these points.

It is abhorrent for the Labour Party to effectively designate progressive or socialist Jewish political traditions as antisemitic, with the EHRC’s apparent stamp of approval.

In some Labour Party constituencies, the situation has deteriorated to the point where Jews who do not support Israel or who continue to support former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn have become too frightened to attend Party meetings for fear of intimidation and abuse.

Worse, they believe that such intimidation and abuse will go unchallenged. What’s worse still, this belief is justified. JVL has reported to the EHRC that not a single Jewish JVL member who has complained of antisemitism directed against them has had their complaint upheld.

In JVL’s most recent letter to the EHRC, our lawyers wrote (added bold):

Our client does not consider that it has received an adequate response in relation to the claims of bullying made on behalf of Mrs Neslen or the letter sent on 23 December 2022 in relation to the Party’s treatment of Stephen Marks. Our client’s experience is that the Party has not provided an adequate channel for members to express their dissatisfaction even in cases of serious distress. Our client therefore seeks confirmation that the EHRC is taking these members’ mistreatment by the Party into consideration as part of its monitoring processes.

Already in 2020, a dozen Jewish Labour members subject to disciplinary proceeding over antisemitism decried Labour’s ‘discrimination against Jewish socialists’. In its May 2021 analysis of the EHRC Report, JVL warned of its ‘pernicious implications for freedom of expression’ in the Labour Party and predicted it would embolden those set on stifling dissent. It is deeply regrettable that these concerns have been borne out.

We continue to obtain costly legal support for our challenges to the EHRC and Labour Party. If you can then please donate and please share widely.


Update 6

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Dec. 23, 2022

Further letter to EHRC: LP expulsion for signing petitions

Following our recent lawyer's letter to EHRC - in yesterday's update - our legal team have today written another.

Stephen Marks was elected to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC) of the Labour Party in November 2018. He received an administrative suspension from the Party in July 2021.
This was based on the grounds that Stephen, along with many others, had signed three public petitions/open letters in 2016. 2017 and 2018 respectively.
He wrote to the Party challenging the grounds for his suspension, but never received a response to that or subsequent attempts at communication.
Until last week, 19th December 2022, when he received a notice of summary expulsion. 

Bindmans has written a letter on his behalf to the EHRC which is monitoring Labour’s implementation of its Action Plan against Antisemitism challenging the entire procedure.

They point out that

  • all actions pre-dated Stephen’s election to the NCC
  • he was one of a large number of signatories to these public documents and that other signatories have not been investigated by the Labour Party
  • the charge of undermining the Labour Party’s campaign against racism, which in view of Stephen’s strong anti-racist actions and beliefs, is in fact an example of the Labour Party conflating legitimate criticisms of the Israeli government (expression of which is protected by Article 10 EHRC) with antisemitism.

It goes on to cite words written by Stephen in response to the charges:

“There is a principle of natural justice here, the right to speak up for others subject to accusations which is relevant to all three petitions. I have confirmed with other NCC colleagues that a signature on a statement or petition would not normally be accepted as evidence in a disciplinary case, being merely an expression of legitimate opinion, unless the petition itself contained racist or sexist expressions. Also it is illegitimate not to show ALL signatories as this representation singles me out.”

You can read the full letter here.

If you are able to donate to our legal costs, please do so and please share widely.

Update 5

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Dec. 21, 2022

Letter to EHRC - challenging Labours extraordinary claims

The Labour Party seems to believe that its complaints handling process is now sorted, in line with EHRC recommendations, and that there is no need for further EHRC monitoring.

We strongly believe that this is not the case: the complaints handling process is still inadequate and there are no grounds for ceasing to monitor it.

Our lawyers have thus written once again to the EHRC:

  • to draw its attention to ongoing problems with the Labour Party’s reporting on its complaints-handling process;
  • to reiterate – and update – complaints that Jewish members are treated differently from others when it comes to dealing with complaints; and, as a result of these problems,
  • to urge the EHRC to continue to monitor the Party’s implementation of its Action Plan.

You can download our letter https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/app/uploads/2022/12/2022.12.14.-Letter-to-EHRC_final4web.pdf

A large proportion of complaints involving JVL members have not yet been resolved and differential treatment of Jews remains a major issue.

We provide the EHRC with two annexes, stating that:

  • Jewish JVL members are 33 times more likely to be investigated for allegations of antisemitism than other Party members and 43 times more likely to be subject to a case involving complaints of antisemitism.
  • where JVL members are the complainants, there has either been no response from the Party or an unsatisfactory outcome, such as a refusal to investigate..

One of the examples of delay concerns Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC MP before moving to Britain more than a decade ago. Andrew has not had a reply since December 2021.

Andrew wrote in his response:      “President Mandela expressed to me that a person is either opposed to each and every form of racism or is part of the racism problem. It is on this basis that I will continue to speak out against all racism and discrimination, including antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-black racism and all other forms of discrimination contained in the Labour Party rules.”

We also draw attention to the case of Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, JVL’s media officer, suspended on the eve of the Labour Party conference. Prior to that she had been allowed to run – successfully - as an NEC candidate, her suspension timed for just before she would have taken her place on the new NEC. Since our letter was sent to the EHRC, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, too, has been expelled.

Here is part of Naomi’s immediate response:     “While celebrating my 70th birthday on December 15, I heard from friends that Jewish Chronicle reporter Lee @lmharpin was claiming confirmation from “multiple sources” that I had been expelled from the Labour Party.

Confidential email to me says my “membership of the Party stands terminated”. An NEC panel concluded I had “in its opinion, demonstrated the type of support for REIST (sic), LIEN and LAW prohibited by Chapter 2, Clause I.5.B.v of the Rules.”

So, details of internal disciplinary cases continue to be leaked to external media in breach of @UKLabour rules. Naomi is contesting the expulsion and we will post a fuller account of this case too in the next day or two.

Follow this link to our official statement where you can add your name: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/sign-up-to-condemn-the-expulsion-of-naomi-wimborne-idrissi/

And for more details of the above, please follow the link to the full article on the JVL website: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/challenging-labours-extraordinary-claims-reposted/

As ever, legal support for our work is expensive. If you can donate please do so, and please share on all your networks.

Thank you



Update 4

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

May 26, 2022

The Diana Neslen Case continued


The article by Haroon Siddique, reproduced below, first appeared as part of the Guardian’s rolling news column at 11.24 on 24th May 2022 .

It reports on Diana Neslen’s demand for an independent investigation into what she believes was a campaign of harassment against her for tweets she posted about Israel and Zionism.

It is accompanied by two letters from Bindmans solicitors acting on behalf of Diana Neslen; one a complaint to the Labour Party detailing Bindmans concerns, the other a letter to the EHRC drawing their attention to this letter of complaint


The Diana Neslen case

Haroon Siddique, Guardian, 24th May 2022

Lawyers for an 82-year-old Jewish woman who was investigated three times in three years by Labour for antisemitism have written to the party demanding that it carry out an independent investigation into what it alleges was a campaign of discrimination against her. They suggest her anti-Zionism was a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.

Labour dropped the latest investigation into Diana Neslen, who regularly attends her local synagogue and keeps a kosher home, after she threatened to sue the party for unlawfully discriminating against her based on her belief in anti-Zionism.

The party was investigating her for tweets she posted about Israel and Zionism. Her lawyers, Bindmans, had said the investigation was unjustified and disproportionate, with the only admissible tweet being one from 2017, in which Neslen said “the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour and I am an antiracist Jew”.

A new letter sent to Labour by Bindmans says the party’s governance and legal unit (GLU) has “failed/refused to properly investigate and/or address our client’s complaints under the party’s own policies on bullying and harassment”. It continues:

Anti-Zionist (or indeed Zionist) beliefs that are strong enough to justify protection under the EA (Equality Act) 2010 are most likely to be held by those of Jewish or Palestinian ethnicities, given it is those ethnicities that are likely to be primarily affected by such beliefs. Accordingly, harassment based on anti-Zionist beliefs equates to harassment based on ethnicity, and it is therefore submitted that the party has subjected our client to harassment on the basis of ethnicity.

In 2018, Labour, under pressure to act on allegations of antisemitism. adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA’s) definition of the term. The IHRA definition of antisemitism includes as an example: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour.”

Jewish Voice for Labour, of which Neslen is a member, says it knows of 52 Jewish Labour members, two of whom have since died, who have faced or are facing disciplinary charges relating to allegations of antisemitism.

See also:

Letter of complaint to the Labour Party (redacted)

Letter to EHRC drawing attention to the letter of complaint to the Labur Party (redacted)

We continue to seek legal advice on cases against the LabourParty and in submissions to the EHRC. If you can, please donate - and please share.

Update 3

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

April 24, 2022

Skwawkbox article on our case

We were pleased to have Skwawkbox publish on our case. Here is the article, below, in case you missed it.

“JVL has consistently argued that lumping the occasional real instances of antisemitism together with the multitude of false accusations often aimed at political anti-Zionism diverts attention from the real and growing danger to Jews of the violent antisemitism of the far-right.”

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JVL’s new submission to EHRC details Labour regime’s abuse of six Jewish members

                                                                               by SKWAWKBOX (SW)                                                                             

                                                                                                                                           

More than fifty Jewish members have been targeted by Labour. JVL's fourth submission to equality watchdog details the cases of six of them

Jewish Voice for Labour, the organisation representing left-wing Jews in the party - and increasingly those targeted for racist discrimination and forced out of the party - has made a further submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on the right-wing regime's conduct toward Jewish members.

In this fourth document, JVL gives detail on six of the more than fifty Jewish party members mistreated by the regime - at a rate of more than thirty times the average for non-Jewish members and well over two hundred times more for senior members of JVL.

The group's announcement of the new submission says it covers:

- the Party’s process for appointing its Advisory Board on antisemitism;
- its failure to engage with a range of stakeholders;
- its failure / delay in responding to complaints;
- the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, and in particular Jewish anti-Zionist members;
- its failure to keep complainants updated with the progress of their complaints;
- breaches of the code of conduct on confidentiality and extensive delays in responding to SAR requests.

In each of these areas we have identified actions by the Party which are detrimental to Party members who are at odds with the current Labour leadership establishment.  The pernicious processes are then compounded by bureaucratic incompetence.

The submission reports on the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, and in particular anti-Zionist members. It examines, in particular, the cases of six Jewish members: Mike Howard, Jonathan Rosenhead, Pam Laurance, Jenny Manson, Stephen Marks and Diana Neslen.

JVL has consistently argued that lumping the occasional real instances of antisemitism together with the multitude of false accusations often aimed at political anti-Zionism diverts attention from the real and growing danger to Jews of the violent antisemitism of the far-right.

The six members whose stories are covered include:

  • Diana Neslen, the woman in her eighties repeatedly targeted by Labour. Ms Neslen's legal action forced the party to back down, but she has still seen no response to her own complaints of antisemitic behaviour toward her by right-wing figures and the party bureaucracy, as the 'preliminary issues' section of the new submission makes clear
  •  Mike Howard, whose lifetime of activism in the labour, union and anti-racism movements was trampled by the party - and who died, after months of victimisation, without even receiving an acknowledgement of his appeal from the party
  • Stephen Marks, an elected member of Labour's National Constitutional Committee targeted by the party for signing petitions - another whose communications with the party have been almost entirely ignored and have seen no action
  • Jonathan Rosenhead, an emeritus professor of the London School of Economics who was also targeted by police for his involvement in the protest movement against South African apartheid
  • Pam Laurance, targeted for sharing a Facebook article by the well-known Jewish author and musician Leon Rosselson
  • Jenny Manson, JVL co-chair, suspended for appearing on a BBC Newsnight programme discussing antisemitism in the Labour party - a programme that led to many complaints that she was bullied by the presenter - and whose suspension was used against her by the right-wing press

The report highlights:

  • the complete inaction of the Labour party in cases of genuine antisemitism against left-wing Jews
  • the way in which the Labour party has treated questioning the authenticity of right-wing complaints as inherently antisemitic - while it questions and ignores genuine complaints made by left-wing Jews
  • the party's repeated breaches under Keir Starmer and David Evans of its obligations and commitments in the report by the EHRC on antisemitism in the Labour party
  • Labour's determination to deny left-wing Jews any voice in its supposedly independent and representative 'Advisory Board' on antisemitism
  • the fact that Labour currently has three codes of conduct relating to antisemitism - with some contradicting each other
  • the fundamental and probably wilful ignorance of the party about what antisemitism actually is and of the breadth of Jewish opinion
  • imposing 'antisemitism training' that equates anti-zionism with antisemitism, with the imposed trainers resisting any attempts to make clear that the two are not the same

and much more.

The Labour right's racism is by no means limited to Jewish people - the right has deep-rooted issues with Islamophobia and racism against Gypsy Travellers and the hounding-out of black councillors and candidates. Not only has the party refused to address these issues or discipline those indulging in such racism, but Keir Starmer - who has refused to express any solidarity with abused black and Muslim women MPs - has even promoted some of them to his front benches and Labour officials have trampled on the wishes of members to impose right-wingers with a history of racism as candidates.

But in its treatment of left-wing Jews, the current regime routinely makes clear that it has no interest in genuinely addressing the evils of antisemitism and instead is abusing the idea of antisemitism in order to use it as a factional weapon. In a less corrupted country with 'mainstream' media doing the job they are supposed to do, this would be a huge scandal.

Read the full fourth submission here.

Update 2

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

March 15, 2022

Fourth submission to the EHRC

There are lessons to be drawn from our experience of the Labour Party Action Plan on Antisemitism

JVL has made a fourth submission to the EHRC, responding on issues the EHRC highlighted for us. These are:

  • the Party’s process for appointing its Advisory Board on antisemitism;
  • its failure to engage with a range of stakeholders;
  • its failure / delay in responding to complaints;
  • the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, and in particular Jewish anti-Zionist members;
  • its failure to keep complainants updated with the progress of their complaints; and
  • breaches of the code of conduct on confidentiality and extensive delays in responding to SAR requests.

    In each of these areas we have identified actions by the Party which are detrimental to Party members who are at odds with the current Labour leadership establishment.

The submission reports on the disproportionate number of actioned complaints taken against Jewish Party members, often anti-Zionist members. To date there have been 49 Jewish members undergoing a total of 62 investigations. We focus on 6 particular cases involving Jewish members. The lack of understanding of the diversity of Jewish views - and their right to hold them – highlights the lack of understanding of antisemitism.  This is particularly harmful in the area of ‘antisemitism training’ which does not distinguish clearly the difference between anti-Zionism and antisemitism and does not allow for the exchange of ideas. 

We have consistently argued that ‘lumping’ the occasional real instances of antisemitism together with the multitude of false accusations often aimed at political anti-Zionism diverts attention from the real and growing danger to Jews of the violent antisemitism of the far-right.

We understand that the independent complaints procedure is being implemented in the very near future.  We hope that the EHRC will take note of our concerns as highlighted in this and previous submissions in order to ensure greater understanding of the issues and to introduce fair processes within the new procedures.

Click here for link to JVL blog: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/statement/jvls-fourth-submission-to-the-ehrc/

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Update 1

Jewish Voice for Labour, JVL

Jan. 11, 2022

Update sent to EHRC

We are expecting a response from EHRC to our lawyers following their letters and our submissions. We have therefore written to notify them of the latest developments.

It appears that the new Labour Party disciplinary process commences on January 20th. We are highlighting an increasingly dogmatic misunderstanding of antisemitism by a Party which includes, in its guidance, both the IHRA definition and the NEC code of conduct and Appendix 9 of the Rule Book. In this the Party appears to be overly influenced by certain partisan views rather than taking into account the diverse experience and deep knowledge of antisemitism among Jews.

Jews are being disproportionally targeted: the total number who have been sanctioned according to our records is now 43 and there have been 55 investigations of Jews with alleged antisemitism at the core, more investigations than individuals because several have been investigated serially e.g. Diana Neslen, three times. These are only the cases that Party members have brought to our attention, there may well be others.

There is a newer concern that well known JVL figures are being particularly harshly treated by the NEC Panels that determine the Party’s disciplinary actions.

Noticeable elements are the eight ‘auto exclusions’ of Jews arising mainly from retrospective application of the proscription of organisations with significant Jewish participation such as Labour against the Witchhunt. The term ‘support’ is being applied extraordinarily widely to include, for instance, merely expressing concern about the proscriptions. The intent appears clear – to eliminate anti Zionist and other legitimate points of view challenging influences from the Party.

One Jewish member has received an eighteen-month suspension from the Party. This penalty seems to rest solely on Appendix 9 of the rule book which includes the following text, which has been used by the Party to brand as antisemitic any questioning of its handling of allegations of antisemitism, even the correction of the facts or any explanation of Jewish identity which questions the Party’s assumptions.

"Any behaviour or use of language which targets or intimidates members of ethnic or religious communities, or incites racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia,or undermines Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism, is unacceptable conduct within the Labour Party."

The first investigation was concluded with the Claimant having no knowledge of a right to defence under the NEC Code of Conduct; a request in 2021 to reopen that investigation was ignored.

This harsh sentence as a conclusion to the second investigation includes a component that effectively will exclude the claimant from the Labour Party: a new rule that requires compulsory training on antisemitism.

This training is given by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM). JVL, some of whose members have attended the voluntary open sessions out of interest, has critiqued this training as lacking in depth (it is not ‘education’) and privileging a Zionist viewpoint. See the following article: JVL response to JLM antisemitism training

The view of antisemitism promoted in these sessions is reductive in the extreme; to impose it on Jews who hold a different view of the world based on their own life experiences (in this case of more than eight decades) is surely concerned with humiliation rather than education.

We will update this site again once we have a reply from EHRC.

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