JLM constitution means chair Berger must leave – unless constitution changes

Change UK Euro election plans makes JLM’s parliamentary chair ineligible for membership
Luciana Berger

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) has featured prominently in the media to criticise the Labour Party, claiming to be the only authentic voice of Jewish members in spite of a membership – to go by the numbers voting in its recent annual general meeting – as low as a few hundred, in spite of its exclusion of ‘non-zionist’ Jewish members of the Labour Party and in spite of the existence of the left-wing Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL).

A screen-capture from JLM’s NEC page taken 22 April 2019

Controversially, when a handful of MPs left the Labour Party to form the ‘Independent Group’ (TIG), JLM retained one of them – Wavertree MP Luciana Berger – as its ‘parliamentary chair’.

It was able to do so because TIG was a ‘group’, backed by a limited company – and not formally a party. JLM’s own constitution – while not requiring its members to be either Jewish or members of the Labour Party – is emphatic on one point.

Section 4.3 of JLM’s constitution is clear that its members must not be members of a party that stands, or intends to stand, candidates against Labour – and that if they are, they cannot remain members of JLM:

But that situation has now changed, with TIG’s acceptance by the Electoral Commission as a formal political party named Change UK – and its intention to contest the European Parliament elections next month. It is expected to announce its candidate list today.

If Ms Berger does not leave the group-turned-party, JLM has three choices:

  1. it must end Ms Berger’s membership – and her chairship – either via her resignation, or by terminating her membership unilaterally
  2. it must change its constitution to accommodate her continued membership, or
  3. it can choose to ignore rule 4.3 and be in breach of its own constitution

Update: Luciana Berger was replaced as JLM chair at its AGM earlier this month. The organisation has not said whether her membership has been resigned or otherwise revoked.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

Affiliated groups have influence, under the party’s rules, over the Labour Party’s policies and affairs – and even over the composition of its National Executive Committee. It’s unthinkable – and legally untenable – for Labour to allow any group to remain affiliated that accepts as members those who belong to competing parties, let alone has an MP of another party as chair.

If JLM does not choose option one, there will be calls for Labour to end the group’s affiliation.

The SKWAWKBOX asked JLM to comment on its intentions. No response was received.

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