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Tackling antisemitism in Labour

Tackling antisemitism in Labour
PHOTO ©2019 The Edinburgh Reporter

The Jewish Labour Movement has nominated Ian Murray for deputy leader.

Here is Ian’s statement to the JLM:

Thank you for contacting me about my campaign to become Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. The Jewish Labour Movement has a proud and important place in our party, and I want to thank you for sticking with the Labour Party through the most difficult circumstances for the Jewish community.

I want to say a heartfelt and meaningful apology. The Labour Party has treated you appallingly and I know that the next Leader and Deputy Leader will have to spend years repairing this relationship. That is why I did not think twice about signing the Board of Deputies’ pledges on antisemitism. We must take the action that the Jewish community – and your representatives – demand.

You may be aware that candidates in this contest were recently invited to a briefing on antisemitism from the General Secretary of the Labour Party. Just let that sink in for a moment. It was necessary for candidates standing for leader or deputy leader of the Labour Party – the party that has stood against racism throughout its history – to receive a briefing about racism in our party. It sickens me and I’m determined to root it out.

I will also be demanding from my fellow candidates for Deputy Leader what they have done in senior positions in the Shadow Cabinet over the last few years.

I never want to knock on a door again when the resident won’t vote Labour for the first ever time because of antisemitism.

The last few years have seen bullying and intimidation inside the Labour Party that should utterly shame us. And there is nothing that should shame us more than the antisemitism in our ranks. Antisemitism is an ancient hatred and it doesn’t happen by accident. It creeps in and then takes hold; if you don’t stamp it out immediately it spreads; and if you don’t act against the perpetrators, the message gets out.

And that is where the last Labour Party leadership went catastrophically wrong. The leadership was too slow to tackle antisemitism; too slow to discipline people involved; and too often the inquiries led to no more than a slap on the wrist. Never again.

I was proud to stand alongside Jewish colleagues like Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge and Louise Ellman when they took antisemitism on and, as Deputy Leader I will ensure a zero-tolerance approach to bullying, harassment and antisemitism.

On my first Monday in the job, I want every outstanding case of antisemitism on my desk from the General Secretary. I will demand that we expel people who have been found to have engaged in any sort of antisemitism; I will extend political education about antisemitism across the party; defend the party’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism; and implement, in full, any recommendations that come from the Equality and Human Rights Commission when it reports this year. I don’t want to politically interfere or get involved in a debate about process – I just want it dealt with swiftly, and I will make sure it is. Zero tolerance.

We owe this to the thousands of Jewish people across the UK – many lifelong Labour voters – who could not vote for us at last year’s election.

Never again do I want any Jewish person to feel they do not have a home in the Labour Party, that they can’t trust us to do the right thing, or feel our party would make the country a more dangerous place for them.

When it comes to how we handle antisemitism, and how we take our party forward more widely, we must change. That is the only way we will win power again. I am standing to be Deputy Leader because I believe the party will benefit from my experience in holding a marginal seat against the odds and building a broad coalition of support, holding on as the only Scottish MP twice. Having a Scot at the top of the party sends out a strong message that every nation and region of the UK matters. I am the most pro-EU candidate standing in the contest and will continue to fight against a hard Brexit and for closer ties with Europe.

I have a five-point plan ready:

1) I will visit every seat we lost, won and may never hold in every nation and region of Britain to understand why Labour lost – and report back to party conference.

2) I will launch a Labour Party Campaign for Britain’s Future to determine how our country should be governed by giving more power to local communities.

3) I will take personal responsibility for rooting out antisemitism, bullying and harassment across the party.

4) I will organise effectively to ensure we target resources where needed, led by our members’ local knowledge.

5) I will never compromise on our Labour values or face both ways on the biggest issues of our time and will work to build a broad coalition of support.

I have set out my plan for a Labour Campaign for Britain’s Future

  • We must have a proper constitutional convention so we can galvanise the public and the party around how all the nations and regions of the UK are governed in a post-Brexit Britain. Taking power at Westminster and then giving it away.
  • In the short-term, pro-Europe voices are needed to ensure that trade negotiations put the UK on the side of higher standards and not a race to the bottom with a Trump trade deal. We need to set the bar high.
  • Following the end of the Brexit transition period, the Labour movement must make the case for a closer relationship to enhance Britain’s place in the world and ensure that jobs and livelihoods are protected.
  • In the long-term, Labour must never rule out campaigning to be part of the EU again in the future, if it is in the national interest.

If you are happy with Labour’s position and want more of the same, don’t vote for me. But we won’t win again with continuity. I am the candidate standing for change. We can beat the Tories if we stop dwelling on the past and look to the future – for our party and for everyone in the UK. We must change to win.

Best wishes,

Ian Murray MP

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