Formby’s new email to all CLPs: no criticism for those raising antisemitism concerns

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Labour’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby

Labour’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby made a strong start to her new role with a first-day email to all Labour members calling on them to work with her to unite the party for the good of the country, with a particular emphasis on addressing instances of antisemitism and other abuse – and laying out her roadmap to ensure all issues are dealt with fairly.

Two days later, she has followed that up with a communication to every one of Labour’s 600+ CLP (constituency Labour party) secretaries, asking them to make sure that all members understand how any discussions of these issues must be conducted:

Dear CLP Secretary

Over the past few weeks there has been increased discussion about antisemitism in the Labour Party and wider society both in the media and amongst members.

I understand some local Labour Parties may be planning to discuss this matter at branch and constituency meetings.

As Jeremy Corbyn has made clear, tackling antisemitism in the party is a central priority. If your party is considering holding such discussions, please therefore make every effort to ensure they take place on our founding principles of solidarity and equality. Criticism of any individual or organisation who has expressed concern about antisemitism would be deeply unhelpful to that process.

I would urge all members and CLPs to actively support Jeremy’s commitment to take immediate and effective steps to combat antisemitism.

We are proudly anti-racist, and at our best when we work together, uniting people in hope and against fear and division.


Jennie Formby
General Secretary
The Labour Party

[Emphasis added by the SKWAWKBOX]

The message is a timely reminder, after a fraught couple of weeks, of the values of the party, the imperative for all members to pull together with respect – and the importance of avoiding the pitfalls the Labour Party’s opponents would love it to fall into.

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  1. Does that mean that the ‘usual suspects’ get off scot-free to plot their next attempt to undermine the party.

      1. However laundry has to be done at some stage and the best place to do it is at calm, comradely Party meetings which include criticisms of those who are critical of us and ideas on how to respond. Not to do so engenders frustration and resentment.

  2. I would respectfully respond to Jenny Formby by asking, are you seriously asking us not to discuss or criticise those who have spent the last eighteen months or more trying to get as many of us as they can, suspended from the Party for any trumped up reason they can think of? Be sensible we are grown ups and will discuss it whether inside or outside the Party.

    When it comes to anti-Semitism, we know that the CAA – ‘Campaign Against Anti-Semitism’ is a racist organisation who have drawn the definition of anti-Semitism as wide as possible so that the net will catch anyone who criticises Zionism or Israel. In other words they are doing their utmost to shut down any criticism at all, even by those in the Jewish community who find Zionism and all that stems from it abominable.

    There is plenty of criticism in the Labour Party, as there should be in a Party dedicated to fighting for human rights, of Israel’s appalling treatment of the Palestinians because of the Zionist culture of occupation and apartheid. However, as member after member, including many Jewish members can testify, they have never come across anti-Semitism within the Party.

    The members should be trusted to discuss and criticise whatever/whoever they wish. We are a members Party, not an autocracy, we left that behind with Blair.

  3. Very difficult to process this.I would agree if the party was not under attack,but how are the members supposed to react to an organisation who hate Corbyn are protesting outside the labour party offices on Sunday for the prime reason to remove JC from his position as leader to the Party. ? Ideas welcome

    1. By drawing upon history.
      ” In 1936 the Leaders of the Labour Party, the Leaders of the Communist Party (they were big then) and Leaders of the Jewish Board of Depties told people not to take part in The Battle of Cable Street. But the grassroots of Labour, The Communinist Party, Trade Unions and diverse working class citizens including grassroots Jewish citizens stopped the Nazis from marching whilst chanting ‘No Pasaran!’ (It was reported that Irish working class women emptied the contents of chamber pots on the Blackshirts) so Labour, trade unions, and the Left plus diverse citizens were there then and we will be there again if ever needed. VOTE LABOUR – WE ARE THE MANY, THEY ARE THE FEW! Join Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. SOLIDARITY!

  4. A sensible reminder from Jennie.
    After reading what some would suggest are disgusting comments by a young Conservative Federation of Students, Guido Fawkes (see Tompride.wordpress.com 3/4/18) and a Calderdale, West Yorkshire Tory Councillor being suspended for reposting a racist tweet against Muslims (Morning Star website, 5/4/18) we should all welcome a light being shone on our humanity.
    And perhaps we need a reminder that as passionate and caring human beings we should try to discuss things in a comradely fashion and let ideas and arguments win the day.
    And yes it is hard when we behind JC believe we want the table and others we believe will settle just for crumbs.
    When we believe that history will know that we existed and history we believe will pass others by?
    Yet in all of our compassion, passion and imperfections perhaps the best we can try to do is to be callm, rational, and considerate as critical thinking citizens.
    But I fear I may have connected with the sense of humour of Jewdas; apparently according to their website their twitter account is now the biggest of all Jewish organisations in the UK (Geoffrey Cohen, 5/4/18) and they offer training on how to criticise (the Right Wing Israeli Govt) Israel without being anti-semetic.
    Now that I bet would be a great learning experience and I bet we would all learn together, and perhaps laugh so much together as equal citizens and equal human beings we would probably cry.
    Been thinking lately of the pop song, “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother (she’s my sister)” – The Hollies.

  5. I can’t see a solution but if the leadership can who am I to argue?
    Giving tempers a chance to cool never hurts.

  6. When issues like this are so emotive, it is important that we should be cautious with our words. We can criticise Israel and we can criticise organisations and Jews for their support of Israel but we cannot criticise Jews for being Jews or Jewish organisations for being Jewish organisations. Everyone has a right to their own opinion but you can’t condemn someone for their religious view, while you can criticise specific religious views. Really its quite simple – you can criticise the contents of a can but not the can itself!

  7. Whilst many of us on the Left believe this is a tri-partite attack by the Right Wing Israeli Govt, Tory Leaders of some Jewish Groups, and the Right in Labour the charge is that there is anti-semeticism in Labour.
    And this is the charge we must address, so Jennie is bowling straight down the line.

  8. I wish I could ban the words ‘Zionism’ and ‘Anti-semiticism’. There are no fixed definition as to what each means and the words can be twisted. If everyone specified exactly what they meant, instead of assuming that others understand their meaning, there would be less confusion about what is prejudice against the Jewish community, what is criticism of the actions of the Israeli govt., and what is actual racial prejudice against someone who has a Jewish heritage.

    1. Rather than ban the definitions why not just find out what they mean? It’s actually quite simple, look in the dictionary.

      Zionism: Establishment of a Jewish national homeland in Palestine.
      Anti-Semitism: Prejudice against, or dislike of Jews.

      The problem is that Zionists have tried to make the definitions as wide as possible to obscure and confuse, So much so, that Zionists now class anti-Semites as those they don’t like, including Jews who don’t agree with them. Don’t fall for it.

  9. Iain Mac. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitic because for one reason, not all Zionists such as Blair for example are not Jews. But of course some anti-Zionists may also be anti-Semites.

      1. Let’s end this particular discussion here, please. Not a topic that you’re going to resolve in the comments section.

    1. Tbh I think you rather prove my point… I’m sure that you are right within your own terms, but I suspect that to many people it sounds very confusing and open to misinterpretation.

      1. They are not my terms, they are dictionary definitions and are quite clear.

        Any misinterpretation is deliberate.

  10. This is precisely why Momentum was formed and Corbyn was elected but it appears not to be working. The General Secretary of the NEC ignorant of the grassroots, fantasises about what is going on at local level and blindly swipes at it with bloated centralised powers in an attempt to eradicate a non existent problem. I know my local CLP , if an anti-semite raised his ugly head he would have it stomped, probably literally. Do you want to come down here Jennie and make sure that we all have clean fingernails and no head lice? Once they get the position they want the power, they know they are right! Nicholson or Formby ‘plus ca change………..’ But……Jeremy Corbyn is different……..I don’t think we have woken up to what that means yet.

    1. Agreed – especially regarding Corbyn (hence, the understandable ‘cult’ jibes). Re Formby, it is rather puzzling why this blog is so positive about her?

      Oh well, fingers crossed but I’ve not seen any actions yet – what about all the members who have suspended for more than 2 years? The Chakrabarti Report states there “should be a statute of limitations … [re] uncomradely conduct and language … of no more than two years save in exceptional circumstances” (p20). Of course, Compliance will always claim that every case is ‘exceptional’ – that’s the point of having a new GS, to change the status quo … still waiting Jennie …

  11. Read some of the pieces suggested in posts on here and wondered if the Left (according to the logic of one author) were being Racist against the Boers for boycotting Apartheid South Africa goods?
    But in Israel are we perhaps trying to fight injustices by the Right Wing of one group of people against another diverse group in the region?
    But it could be argued that some on the Left have been too uncritical of the Palestinian and Arab sides in the past and I have always seen Hamas etc. as Right Wing and the PLO/Fatah as top down and self-serving and not progressive.
    My hope has always been for left wing democratic socialist forces on all sides and it is up to the citizens in this region to work out a solution themselves.
    But I think the root cause goes way back, way way back to bourgeois socialism – top down, authoritarian leaders taking the power for themselves and telling others how to live their lives when perhaps socialism was always meant to be a peaceful, grassroots-led, bottom up, participatory, democratic, left wing socialism – us telling leaders what to do and we all working out together how to live our lives.
    But perhaps on the Left we have to think more critically and for example if there is a demo or a protest going on the instinct is to join it, support it but a few months ago there was a march of 60,000 and it was a horrible Far Right march in Poland – so we need to analyse what’s going on, what are the forces involved and stand with diverse working people and then perhaps some good can come out of all of this.
    But I think there is some hope from history – in 1936 before The Battle of Cable Street, Labour Leaders, Communist Leaders (they were quite big then) and The Jewish Board of Deputies told people to keep away from it. But grassroots Labour members, communists, trade unionists and working class citizens including Jewish citizens turned up on mass and halted the Blackshirts whilst chanting “No Pasarant” and there were reports of Irish working class women emptying the contents of chamber pots onto the Blackshirts!
    So we were there then and if needed will be there again too but I would also hope we begin to focus our attention too on Europe and Eastern Europe where there is a worrying rise in the Far Right.
    So Diverse working people join Labour and Diverse working people of the World Democratically and Peacefully Unite!

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