This is why it is important that members of the Labour Party voice their support for the NEC’s Code of Conduct, why it is vital the NEC stands up for the membership’s rights to free speech within the Party at the same time as combating antisemitism. The NEC should keep its current code and not adopt all the IHRA examples in their current form, as this would restrict free speech and not assist the party in tackling antisemitism where it exists.
There is antisemitism within Britain, which must be combated. Where ever it is expressed within the Labour Party the NEC’s Code of Conduct on Antisemitism, which includes the IHRA 38 word definition of antisemitism, provides the appropriate framework for dealing with such prejudice. The Labour Party code is more comprehensive, detailed and robust than the IHRA’s 11 examples. It has been written to set down clear guidelines to be used when considering disciplinary action against a Labour Party member. This was never the purpose for which the IHRA examples were drafted. It is Labour’s code that is ‘fit for this purpose’, not something written for an entirely different purpose.
In Britain, as in other countries that uphold free speech, it is entirely legitimate to discuss such issues as for example what kind of state Israel is, whether its new Nation State Basic Law consolidates racial division and discrimination, what Israel’s policy goals are and whether they are compatible with a peace process. That freedom of speech should not be withdrawn from members of the Labour Party. As a progressive party, that seeks a peaceful solution to the current conflict, it is necessary that a full range of views can be discussed on this issue.
If the NEC adopts all the IHRA examples, it risks curtailing important political debate about the situation of the Palestinians and the conflict with Israel – which is an important foreign policy issue, discussed within political parties across the world.
Before any changes to the current code are even considered by the NEC there ought to be widespread consultation, given the very serious issues at stake if the party gets this wrong.
We call upon the NEC to take appropriate action against antisemitism where it does exist within Labour whilst protecting member’s freedom of speech on Palestine/Israel issues. Members should be permitted to freely discuss the state of Israel and its history, without conflating opposition to Israel automatically with antisemitism.
Antisemitism must be combated whilst members rights to free speech are also upheld.
● BacktheNECcode is a ‘Grassroots Group’ of Labour Party members.
● The group are spreading the word about the campaign via a twitterstorm under hashtag “#BackNECcode” on Monday August 20th at 7.00pm GMT. and a lobby to NEC members.
● More information available here – https://www.backtheneccode.co.uk/why-back-nec-code, or on the official Facebook and Twitter.