Unison boss Prentis’ pro-IHRA article just labelled his OWN union antisemitic

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis has appeared in the New Statesman today calling for Labour to occupy the ‘high moral ground’ by adopting the full IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism – including all of its much-criticised ‘examples’:

prentis ns.png

Prentis name-checks Barnet in his article, claiming that when he campaigned in the borough, which has a large Jewish population, he saw the issue costing Labour votes.

The Code of Conduct, the IHRA and the problem

Labour’s new Code of Conduct incorporates the entire IHRA definition, but clarifies a handful of examples to make them legally usable and functional as a guide to acceptable behaviour.

Unison is one of the most highly-represented unions on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and its votes could be decisive in any attempt to change the Code of Conduct.

But Prentis just created a huge problem for himself and his union – as well as perfectly highlighting why Labour’s Code is in fact a far better, clearer and more usable document.

Barnet and BDS

Barnet council, which adopted the IHRA and examples in January, recently passed a draconian motion that specifically references the IHRA definitions to support it. The motion ignores – as is common when referring to the IHRA examples – the IHRA document’s introduction to the examples, which states:

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life… could, taking into account the overall context, include…

The IHRA document itself says that it’s possible to say or do the things listed, depending on context – but Barnet disregarded that simple concept and treats the examples as absolute.

The motion condemns the pro-Palestinian ‘BDS’ (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement as explicitly antisemitic in and of itself – and labels anyone who supports it as antisemites:

barnet bds.png

It’s safe to say that Barnet council considers the BDS movement and its supporters antisemitic – and beyond question that they use the IHRA examples to justify their conclusion.

Barnet’s Labour councillors supported the motion. It has been passed to the Policy and Resources Committee for a final decision on its legal enforceability before implementation.

Unison and BDS

Dave Prentis explicitly name-checks Barnet in his article – but he has painted himself into a corner.

At its 2015 annual conference, Unison passed a motion to ‘step up’ its contributions to the BDS campaign.

In February 2016, Unison held its annual conference in Brighton. On 29 Feb, it debated – and carried – a motion titled:

Don’t Silence the Occupation of Palestine

That motion was explicit in its support for BDS, including calling on the union’s executive to implement the previous year’s decision:

unison bds.png

In June 2017, Unison’s conference again passed a motion of support for Palestine, this time titled, “Palestine: 50 Years of Occupation“. The motion was explicit and emphatic regarding BDS:

Conference reaffirms its support for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), including a UN arms embargo on Israel and a ban on settlement goods as practical ways of persuading Israel to implement the relevant UN resolutions and end the occupation and the repression of the Palestinian people.

There is absolutely no doubt whatever that the official position of Unison is one hundred percent in support of the BDS movement.

According to Barnet council – specifically name-checked by Dave Prentis – and its application of the IHRA, that makes Unison absolutely antisemitic, as well as ‘persona non grata’ in terms of renting facilities or receiving support from the council.

Local union officials have asked Unison for guidance on how to respond to the likely attacks on their contracts and resources if the policy is implemented, so the union is aware of the issue. No response has been received.

By writing his article for the New Statesman, Dave Prentis not only labelled his own union and its policies decided by its members as antisemitic – he also provided an object lesson on the way the IHRA examples are abused.

A lesson that shows it cannot and must not be adopted ‘as is’ by the Labour Party – and that reinforces the ‘gold standard’ status of the Labour Code of Conduct – showing that Jennie Formby, In-House Counsel Gordon Nardell and Labour’s NEC all made absolutely the correct decision.

A lesson that writes a huge question mark next to the behaviour and motives of those who continue to attack it.

The SKWAWKBOX has discussed these issues with Unison’s press office. No response has yet been received.

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    1. Before you write your reply… I do recognise my miserable-old-gitness… in fact I embrace and cherish it… so please don’t waste your time in criticism of my complaint that I am sick to fucking death of people linking to sites that require signing up and logging in in order to read whatever pearls may or more often may not be behind the curtain or the paywall.

      I reject the principle of having to log in to read something – doing so in order to reply is acceptable – but not to read something ffs.

      I actually find it offensive that someone thinks it’s OK to waste my time and I’d be offended again to hear how easy it is to sign up and log in, so thanks, but no thanks.

      I’ve never knowingly linked to anything that wasn’t viewable on the first page – surely that’s just good manners?

      And no, I’m not just venting because I’m a sad old git stuck indoors, on his own, nowhere to go on a Saturday night, writing into the ether.

  1. I am so, so sick and tired of this proxy war on Corbyn by remain supporters. I wish the party would tell them all to ‘fuck-off’. Racism, hate speech and defamation are already defined and punishable if the law is broken. I’m glad I’m not a member of the party and can say what I want.

    1. It has nothing whatsoever to do with “remain supporters” lundie, and YOU know it. There seems to be quite a few people coming on skwawkbox lately trying to change the reality of the situation. It is of course a black propaganda op concocted and contrived by the Establishment and their minions and the fascist controlled MSM to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and demonise the Left. And just about everyone on the Left knows it, so you really are just completely wasting your time.

      Funnily enough, I just started reading a book a couple of days ago about how they did exactly the same to Harold Wilson in the 1960s. And the title of the book? Smear! Wilson And The Secret State.

      And last week I was in the local library (mainly to look through the newspapers for the latest smears on JC and the Left) and came across a book entitled Blacklisted, and in the description of the book it says the following:

      Blacklisted tells the controversial story of the illegal strategies that transnational construction companies resorted to in their attempt to keep union activists away from their places of work. This is a story of a bitter struggle, in which collusion with the police and security services resulted in victimization, violence and unemployment, with terrible effects on families and communities


      The psychopaths who run the show made it crystal clear what they think of democracy when they abolished the GLC and the six Metropolitan County Councils back in the 80s, which ALL happened to be controlled by the Left at the time, and it goes without saying that HAD they been controlled by the Labour Right or the Tories, it would never have happened of course.

      1. If you think that rabid remain supporters haven’t nailed their colours to the antisemitic mast along with Atlanticists, careerists and the Labour right. You must be living on another planet. Just read the comments in the Guardian or the Indy, they’re full of right-on lefty liberal anger and frustration against Corbyn, who they see as worse than May. I bet you support the “Best for Britain” campaign that is just about the most neoliberal gathering of people you ever could imagine.

      2. Putting aside the fact that you make a lot of assumptions lundiel, can you give me a link to an article in which such comments were posted (I’d ask you for several examples, but if you put more than one link in a post on skwawkbox it has to wait to be moderated). Thanks

    2. I could (And should) have written this. ^^^

      By far the best post on the whole antisemite palaver that I’ve read.

  2. This whole farago is now totally beyond parody. What we do know, from their actions and words, is that Jeremy Corbyn and the mainstream of the Labour Party are under attack from a very immoral and dishonest faction who, in spite of having been found out, are so lacking in self-awareness that they cannot see that normal people have seen through them. There is no doubt that the whole antisemitic issue has been damaging to the Party, but not as much as they hoped, and already, most of the world is moving on. But useful markers have been put down for the future, and to their detriment.

    1. It’s NOT a faction, it’s the ruling elite and their minions and the MSM!

      1. When he says ‘faction’ I rather assume he’s referring to those nominally Labour folk who prefer to follow the agenda set by the Establishment.
        We generally know who they are, don’t we?

      2. Well if he/she is referring to the Blairites, why not just say so. And if you don’t mind me saying so, he/she speaks in general terms about the anti-semitic propaganda op, which of course the Blairites are an integral part of. And what’s with all this “lacking in self awareness” line, which I’ve come across in several posts just recently. The reality is that know EXACTLY what they are doing AND that the MSM control what most people think and believe and feel about any particular issue and, as such, self-awareness, or lack of, has nothing whatsoever to do with anything.

  3. I’m appalled that anyone on the Left of British politics would support a definition that effectively muzzles most criticism of Israel, and condemns Palestinians to live under apartheid forever.
    If the word ‘civilization’ means anything, we must maintain the right to criticize wayward nations.

    1. And I’m appalled that “anyone on the Left of British politics” would repeatedly choose the New Statesman as his mouthpiece, particularly after the flagrant deceitfulness and smugness of their more recent coverage. I think his choice speaks volumes about his position.

  4. Dave Prentis acting as an apartheid surrogate by preventing discussion in the Labour Party about apartheid Israel is not taking the high moral ground.

    It is a clear breach of Labour values and policies to defend apartheid and justifies Dave Prentis being kicked out of the Labour Party for attempting to prevent debate about a racist apartheid regime.

  5. I was aware of what Barnet were planning, but didn’t know that it had been passed. I am very glad that SkwawkB has brought this to bear on the article by DP in the N.S. Please let me express my 100% support for the SkwawkB analysis and commentary. It’s already been said on this site: socialism (or pragmatism?) at home doesn’t serve well if it means tacit and structural support for racism, imperialism and apartheid elsewhere.

  6. Hopefully Unison Activists will deluge Prentis with a barrage of complaints at his undermining of member led very clear policy.

  7. Perhaps the reason that one politician is feared by MPs of all parties, including some of his own party, is because his comments reflect his true belief, and they afraid that if he gets into power, he will do what he said he will.

    1. The Establishment has an answer answer for everything.

      Except an honest politician who cannot be bought.

      They are afraid, very afraid.

      And getting afraider by the day.

  8. In the above article it says: “It’s safe to say that Barnet council considers the BDS movement and its supporters antisemitic….”.

    I would say that it’s safe to say that they know full well that it’s NOT anti-semitic, and what this amounts to is outright repression, and it needs to be brought to end swiftly.

    There is absolutely no difference between the boycott of South Africa in the 1980s and the BDS movement. The people of Barnet need to be enlightened as to what is really going on, including the Jewish community, who are being emotionally manipulated by the fascist Elite and their MSM chums, much the same as Hitler and Goebbels did to the German population in the 1930s in relation to the Jews – ie scare tactics. There are no depths to which the fascist Elite and Co will not sink!

    1. You’ve been giving people stick for “speaking in general terms”, yet you come out with student union stuff like “fascist elite”. Come on Allan, this isn’t a 60s Uni.

      1. It might come as a surprise to you lundiel, but ALL elites are inherently fascist. Anyway, that said, have you thought of applying for a job with the Sun?

        You’re just an eensy weensy bit too transparent!

  9. It’s all on very shaky ground and smacks of desperation to me. If anybody takes the time to read the document (it’s available online and it’s only a couple of pages long), it is clear that the IHRA “working definition” of antisemitism is barely a definition at all. Broadly speaking, it has been appropriated by those who want international allies of Israel to turn a blind eye to Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians. To me, that is an abuse of the document’s intent. What is even more disgusting about this is that it trivialises REAL antisemitism and racism, which the Labour Party should always stand against, no matter who the perpetrators are.

  10. ” … even individuals …”

    Will the London Borough of Barnet be ejecting “individuals” from public spaces, parks, swimming pools, libraries etc if they show that they support BDS, e.g. with a logo on a t shirt, or a badge?

  11. There are two mistakes here. First, Barnet council DID NOT adopt the IHRA examples, but only the opening two sentences. the Barnet Labour group, which is under the influence of the JLM, and as proposed by the (ex)councillor Langlaben, tried to push the full monti, but their motion was defeated (luckily sectarian politics still alive even between two segments of anti-palestinians). the 2nd mistake is that this motion on the BDS was not brought before the council meeting, but declared by the officers as “out of order” and never voted on.
    This is not to underestimate the anti-democratic and repressive potential of the IHRA as this motion clearly demonstrated.

    1. Go to barnet.gov.uk and search for IHRA and BDS. This will lead you to the minutes of the january meeting where the tory cllr Gordon put his IHRA motion and the labour group amendment of the full munti which was rejectd. And also the last full council meeting where Gordon’s motion decleared out of order and the alternative was not reach to vote on. I was there.

  12. Well, if Barnet didn’t pass the motion against the BDS movement, that’s something. I was pinching myself about the implications. As Ron suggests, it’s bad enough that it was even proposed.

    However, re “Barnet did not adopt the examples”, it’s getting confusing: SkwawkB refers to the full definition with examples being adopted “in January”. Does SB mean Jan 2018, or Jan 2017? The Jewish News, which (perhaps misleadingly) doesn’t appear to make reference to the examples and whether these were adopted, is referring to the adoption of a version of the IHRA definition in February 2017.

    Hope someone can clarify.

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