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Exclusive: Starmer ignored antisemitism complaints vs Coyle by prominent Jews incl knighted barrister and professor

Two lawyers and a professor submitted complaints to party and then to Starmer about Neil Coyle’s comments about left-wing Jews – and have been ignored

Neil Coyle and Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer has been accused of ignoring antisemitism complaints – made by a Jewish Oxford professor and two Jewish lawyers, one of them a knight of the realm – against Bermondsey and Old Southwark MP Neil Coyle.

Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC, Professor Avi Shlaim and solicitor Harold Immanuel submitted complaints to the party after Coyle called for all members of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), the main grouping of left-wing Jews in the party, to be expelled because they are ‘outright Communists’:

As Harold Immanuel’s complaint notes, accusations of Communism against Jews is a longstanding antisemitic smear. It is often paired with the phrase ‘Judaeo-Bolshevism’ or the far-right crypto-version ‘cultural Marxism’. Immanuel wrote:

The antisemitic character of Mr Coyle’s tweet is reinforced by its identification of JVL members as “outright Communists”. As you know, this is a well authenticated antisemitic trope or slur rehearsing the myth of “Judaeo-Bolshevism” (Judaeo-Communism for the uninitiated) which dates at least from the Russian revolution of 1917 and has been a central part of the antisemitic lexicon ever since.

Professor Shlaim’s complaint describes the ‘outrageous hate speech’ of Coyle’s comment – and points out to the party that it is a clear breach of Labour’s rules against comments that ‘might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on race, religion or belief’ meriting the ‘severest censure’:

Complaint to the Labour Party about Neil Coyle MP

Responding on Twitter to a report by @Mirror Politics on 17 July 2021: “Starmer set to expel 1000 far left Labour members in four ‘poisonous’ groups”, Mr Coyle tweeted as follows: “Not far enough. JVL should be gone too. And other outright Communists who have their own political party/ies they can ruin”.

I am a Jewish member of the Labour Party and also a member of JVL (Jewish Voice for Labour). I am most definitely not a Communist and I do not have another party. Mr Coyle’s call for the mass expulsion of all JVL members from the Labour Party is unmistakably, crudely, and disgustingly anti-semitic. By calling me and my JVL colleagues “outright Communist”, Mr Coyle adds insult to injury. This is the kind of thing that was said about Jews in Nazi Germany. It is shocking to hear it in this day and age and in the Labour Party of all places.

Mr Coyle’s diatribe against Jewish members of the party is outrageous hate speech by any standards. Be that as it may, it clearly breaches Labour Party rule 2.1.8 which requires the NEC to regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on race religion or belief as conduct prejudicial to the Party.

This is surely an open and shut case of racism which calls for the severest censure. If this is not a crystal-clear case of racist antisemitism, I don’t know what is. Just compare what Mr Coyle said with the comments that led to Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension from the Labour Party. There is no comparison.

The only appropriate censure in my view is expulsion from the Labour Party.

Finally, as a victim of this complaint, I assert my right to updates on the progress of your investigation. Please note that data protection and confidentiality do not cancel this right. 16.9.2021.

The trio received acknowledgements from the party that their complaint had been received and assuring them that “if you are a victim of this complaint or directly involved in it, then we will keep in contact with you as the case progresses” – and nothing since. So Sir Geoffrey Bindman, who knows Starmer personally, wrote on their behalf directly to him last October, asking him to ensure action was taken – with the letter copied both to the party whips and general secretary David Evans:

Dear Keir

I write on behalf of myself, Harold Immanuel, and Professor Avi Shlaim. We are all longstanding members of the Party and the first two of us are also members of the Rose network [Labour’s group of leading funders].

I write with reference to a tweeted message published by a Labour MP, Neil Coyle on `17th July 2021, a copy of which I attach. You are doubtless familiar with it since it has been widely circulated. In response to a report by Mirror politics that you were “ set to expel 1000 Labour members in four ‘poisonous ‘ groups”, Mr. Coyle called for the expulsion of the members of Jewish Voice for Labour , a Jewish organisation , whom he described as “outright communists” repeating the notorious antisemitic trope or slur of “Judaeo-Bolshevism”.  The three of us – and perhaps others – have complained under the Party’s complaints procedure that Mr. Coyle’s conduct  is a violation of rule 2.1.8. My complaint was submitted on 7th  September, acknowledged on 9th September, but I have received no report of any further progress.

The seriousness of antisemitic conduct by a Member of Parliament seems to us to require something more, namely decisive action by both the Leader of the Party in relation to the Labour whip and by the NEC in the exercise of its disciplinary powers. It is now 3 months since the offending tweet was published yet no such action has been taken.  It is astonishing that Mr. Coyle  still has the Party whip. Have you and the NEC  considered  his conduct? I am copying this letter to Sir Alan Campbell MP, and to David Evans so that they may take such steps as fall within their areas of responsibility.

I and my colleagues will be glad to hear what action will now be taken in this matter.

With my best personal regards


Bindman received an automated acknowledgement, but nothing since.

Skwawkbox approached Neil Coyle and Keir Starmer for comment yesterday morning:

Mr Coyle, Sir Keir,

A number of Jewish people in the Labour party have come forward to say they made complaints of antisemitism to the party – which they also escalated to Keir Starmer when the party’s complaints unit failed to respond – because of your comments linking left-wing Labour Jews and communism, an old and well-worn antisemitic trope, when you called for Jewish JVL members to be kicked out of the party.

Despite the escalation to Mr Starmer, the limit of the party’s action was an acknowledgement of receipt.

Mr Coyle, do you accept that your comment was antisemitic? If so, do you apologise?

Sir Keir, under your leadership Labour has targeted left-wing Jews with disciplinary action, including accusations of antisemitism, at a rate far higher than non-Jewish members despite your claims to be tackling antisemitism in the party. Many of these actions have resulted in suspension and expulsion for the members targeted. Why have you taken no action against Mr Coyle for his comment after three leading Jewish members, including a knighted lawyer and a professor, lodged complaints about it?

…please respond with your comments no later than 5pm. As you both have a record of non-response to enquiries, I am setting a prompt deadline and I hope this time will be different.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the seriousness of the matter in question, at the time of writing Skwawkbox had received only an automated acknowledgement.

Professor Shlaim noted that the party has not taken its foot off the pedal in terms of its investigations against left-wing Jewish members, whom it has been hounding almost since Keir Starmer became its leader:

It’s not as if the party has slowed down in its investigations. It is going full-tilt in accusing Jewish members of the party of antisemitism while completely ignoring a case of outrageous antisemitism by a sitting MP. The silence is deafening.

Labour has or is conducting at least 46 investigations against left-wing Jews accused of antisemitism by the right for their defence of Palestinians and their comments on the conduct of Israel. It does not appear to be conducting even one against Neil Coyle – and according to the three complainants, Keir Starmer has completely ignored a request to do so, even though it came from one of the country’s leading lawyers whom he knows personally.

Harold Immanuel pointed out that Labour’s activities against left-wing Jewish members are accelerating. While last year a JVL committee member was a staggering 224 times more likely to be targeted for investigation than a non-Jewish member, the latest data show that this has risen to almost 300 times. He went on:

At the same time, Labour MPs have continued to describe their own party as antisemitic.  The most recent such allegation was made by the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rachel Reeves MP, when she alleged (on the Today programme on Radio 4 on 20th January at 7.36am) in connection with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) that the “EMHRC (sic!) report on the Labour Party had found institutional antisemitism”.  However, that’s a complete fiction since the EHRC found no such thing.

This begs an obvious question, namely what is really going on?  If antisemitism was the Labour Party’s real concern, Mr Coyle would have been disciplined months ago and Rachel Reeves would, at the very least, have had a dressing down from Keir Starmer for bringing the Labour Party into disrepute for repeating a serious but unfounded allegation about the Labour Party. 

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