Scottish govt set to drop IHRA as “dog’s breakfast” hate-crime law revised

Much has been made over recent months of the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s ‘working definition’ (IHRA) of antisemitism by various organisations, as pressure was brought to bear on the Labour Party. Labour had adopted the IHRA ‘working definition‘, but had clarified some of the examples in its new Code of Conduct.

The IHRA was presented, misleadingly, as the ‘universally accepted’ definition, even though only a handful of countries have approved it and fewer still have adopted it in full – understandably, since it describes itself as not legally binding. In spite of this, a political perception was created and the party ultimately adopted the full document, although plans are still in place to clarify its application.

However, developments are challenging the prevailing narrative – because of moves to correct a “dog’s breakfast” of current Scottish hate-crime legislation.

Because of issues with sectarianism among other things, Scottish hate-crime and hate-speech laws have become extremely complex in an attempt to cover even such matters as what chants can be sung at football matches. This resulted in a drive to simplify legislation.

This project was allocated in 2017 – the same year the Scottish government adopted the IHRA working definition – to Lord Bracadale, a distinguished retired judge who, as Alastair Campbell QC was senior prosecutor in the Lockerbie/PanAm bombing trial.

Alastair Campbell, Lord Bracadale

Bracadale’s recommendations, published earlier this year and running to some 180 pages, are based on the concept of protected characteristics and propose extending the definition of those characteristics to include gender and age.

But they also include proposals to repeal all of Scotland’s current racial harassment laws in order to combine all hate-crime legislation into a single Act, with a standard definition applying to all forms of racism.

As the IHRA working definition is specific to antisemitism, as well as having well-known legal weaknesses, it would be excluded.

Bracadale also concluded that “hostility towards a political entity” should not be considered a hate-crime because “The right to engage in legitimate political protest is fundamental in a democratic society“, meaning that opposition to the political ideology of ‘zionism’ – often treated as synonymous with antisemitism by supporters of Israel – would likewise be excluded.

Scottish councils would therefore be unable to follow the route being considered by councils in England such as Barnet, which is examining the option of barring organisations – including many unions – that support ‘BDS’, the programme of ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions’ against goods and services from illegal Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory.

Scottish Parliament insiders have told the SKWAWKBOX that Bracadale’s recommendations are almost certain to pass into legislation because of the urgent need to “sort out the dog’s breakfast we’ve got at the moment“.

This would result in the removal of the IHRA working definition from Scotland’s legal framework – and pose a serious challenge to the idea that the IHRA document is ‘universally accepted’ even among the nations of the UK.

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  1. I wonder if Ron or SB might be able to update us on Barnet and its crazy anti BDS motion from much earlier in the year

  2. Let’s all follow Scotland’s analytical example; cool calm & collected. Criticising vicious Israeli land-theft & apartheid is NOT antisemitic!!!

    1. Yes. The comparison of Israel with Nazi Germany was one of the false examples of anti-Semitism.

      Comparisons with Nazi Germany get made regularly and may well be perfectly valid. For example, President Truman expressed fears that the FBI could become ‘an American Gestapo.’

  3. I doubt the Westminster government will adopt rationality (It’d be a first).

    But will the NEC recognise the folly of adopting the IHRA confused and wordy nonsense?

    Frankly, I’m not putting any bets on it after the previous capitulation – and, of course, caving in to pressure like that sets up a precedent that is harder to undo.

    The important immediate issue is to get justice for the victims of the right-wing campaign who have been suspended from the Party for objecting to the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and the theft of their land.

  4. Why is it that a nationalist party like the SNP, copying progressive policies and strategies from the Labour party, ends up delivering better policies and strategies than the real thing?

    1. A lot of them are ex-Labour Party. Sturgeon was never a member of the Labour Party but she came from a Labour background. Both her parents voted Labour.

      Hope this helps.

  5. Yes a comrade of mine argued that only 7 countries out of 187 (4%) have adopted it (in its fullest form) whilst a quick Google a while gave 31 (but this may not have been full adoption) and 31 is still only 16%. Highly recommend Bernard Regan’s recent book ‘The Balfour Declaration’ which shows Britain’s position on Palestine was more about meeting British then Imperialist needs such as keeping access to the Suez Canal and communications to the empire open – (to put down potential rebellions etc.) this book in my opinion adds much to the debate and is brilliant, highly recommended reading as a Socialist Stocking Filler!
    But can’t resist dig at the Neo-Liberal SNP (they support the Neo -Liberal EC and Neo-Liberal single market) they are not socialists, are opportunists who were able to take Scottish Old Labour’s clothes because of Neo-Liberal Blairism!
    I.5 cheers out of 3 for the SNP.

    1. Good point about the Regan book. And there are other good sources of background, with, of course, Al Jazeera’s ‘The Lobby’ essential viewing in relation to the scam against Labour. There *was* a parallel Channel 4 ‘Dispatches’ film on the same subject some ten years ago – ironically made by the right-leaning (but honest) journalist, Peter Oborne. One of the fascinating excerpts of that programme was the input of Alan Rusbridger, The Grauniad’s then editor, detailing the pressure from the Israel lobby – evidence that the current editorial policy simply denies – indeed, supresses.

      I have to say that my personal experience – like many others – isn’t of antisemitism in the Labour Party. I’ve never seen such. The greater concern has been lack of knowledge of the history and current situation in Palestine and the ethnic cleansing that writers such as Ille Pappe (amongst others) documents, and, of course, that LFI tries to obfuscate.

      In terms of political awareness of the issues, I have found some church events (and I speak as a non-God botherer) have shown much more awareness than the average LP branch meeting!

      I hope that this is changing after the events at last year’s Conference – it would be a welcome blow-back from the hasbara campaign of distortion and lies.

    2. Obviously, the point of it was to use the Jewish people for British imperialism’s own ends. It was never going to be about principle.

      Incidentally, the needs of British imperialism lay behind the decision to establish school dinners. During the Boer War, British troops were poor fighters due to illness caused by poor nutrition.

      Here’s another interesting point: The cost of the British Empire may well have been greater than the revenue from it. That is highly likely: the cost would be socialised and the profits would be privatised. I think Noam Chomsky made this point some years ago.

  6. This is very much needed and sounds like a possibility of a universally accepted definition .

    1. From 2002 John Pilger’s second film with the title ‘Palestine is still the issue’. This title is still deeply relevant and important today for those who truly and honestly want freedom, peace, self determination and that now soiled and Orwellian word on the world stage ‘democracy’. ‘None of us are free until Palestine (and Palestinians) is free’.

    2. Very interesting film; I look forward to the day when BBC will broadcast it. The ‘Perception Industries’ have a serious problem with ownership & who it employs’ often ‘like minded clones’ who only seek to manufacture consent for preferred ideologies. There is is little or no dissent in MSM; whether you get your News from Sky; BBC or Channel 4; the agenda, even the running order, is the same. Uncritical.

  7. The NEC (Secret Society) will never consult with the membership on such an issue & Lansman actively promotes Labour adopting IHRA definition. Threats are always being made against anyone or organisation that disagrees.

  8. Bernard Regan’s book is brilliant because it draws on British Govt. Cabinet Papers at the time of the Balfour Declaration and quotes what people actually said as he argues policy was all to fit in with British Imperial interests as they promoted a home for Jewish people in Palestine as “surrogate settlers” and one then Conservative MP wrote “We would have a little loyal Ulster of Jewish people in a sea of antagonistic Arabs.”
    The new Jewish arrivals were favoured in contracts and were encouraged only to employ Jewish workers and Jewish workers were paid almost twice as much as Arab workers plus the British Imperialists bent every rule to favour Jewish citizens including over land ownership – the Palestinians have been robbed blind and great injustices have been faced by them but of course the USA has since taken over where Britain left off!
    And as Naura Eraket argues they (Israel) will not talk peace because “they want to maintain their religious, ethnic and economic supremecy” and “They Use Hamas as a scarecrow!”
    We all recoil at the horror of the halocaust where 6m Jews perished (as well as much smaller numbers of communists, socialists, LGBT, Disabled, Gypsies etc.(but I remember reading Tariq Ali and learnt that at the beginning of the 20thC the grotesque Belgium Imperialists slaughtered 10m in the Congo – why have we never been taught this?
    We should value all diverse lives equally!
    The oppressed of the World cry out for Justice and hopefully with leaders like Corbyn in more countries we will get it!
    Yours in international solidarity!

    1. “Belgium Imperialists slaughtered 10m in the Congo”

      I think that is an underestimate. The figure that I have in mind is 20m (from Adam Hochschild’s “King Leopold’s Ghost”). Then, of course, there is the slaughter in Africa by other powers, including Britain.

      But this isn’t just a numbers game (the Roma lost proportionately more than even the Jewish community in WWII). And it’s not just about western imperialism. It’s about the wider issue of power and hegemony and the corruption it entails if not checked (see China, see Russia, see …. etc. etc.).

      The lesson from Palestine is that the oppressed can become the oppressors.There is no automatic sainthood in inherited victimhood.

  9. The Labour Party is terrified of the core of Zionists within whose allegiance to the racist State of Israel overrides any other consideration. The very fact that they were instrumental in trying to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader, shows that they will stop at nothing to remove anyone who opposes them, especially Jews such as Tony Greenstein and Jackie Walker who criticise Zionist actions.

    The latest attempt by Zionists to remove one of their critics is that of Pete Gregory the Edinburgh GMB shop stuard.

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