Analysis Breaking

Jewish Voice for Labour: the reaction to Abbott’s comment and her suspension were wrong

Jewish group targeted by Starmer and co speaks out for Britain’s first Black woman MP after Labour’s hierarchy of racism strikes again

Left-wing Jewish group Jewish Voice for Labour knows what it is like to be targeted by the Labour right. Its leadership is hundreds of times more likely to be targeted by the party management than non-Jewish left-wingers. The group has issued a statement supporting Diane Abbott, Britain’s first Black woman MP – and for years the target of the worst racism of Labour’s right-wingers – after she was suspended by Keir Starmer for speaking out about the experience of Black people in the UK today:

Diane Abbott: A statement from Jewish Voice for Labour

The suspension of Diane Abbott is yet a further attack on our freedom to debate very important issues in the Labour party. Her original letter was not antisemitic and the way some critics have rounded on her as if it were is cynical and unhelpful.

As a prominent Black Labour MP she cannot avoid discussing the way Black and Asian people are in the frontline of racist oppression – and the way the Black experience has been downplayed in the Labour Party. This was identified by Martin Forde in his report as a hierarchy of racism. The wording of Diane’s letter was unfortunate in that it appeared to compare forms of racism. Diane has rightly apologised for this.

All racism is abhorrent – and she has always fought against it. Historically Jews have been major victims – most notoriously in the time of the Holocaust. As Diane says in her tweeted apology, “Racism takes many forms and it is completely undeniable that Jewish people have suffered its monstrous effects, as have Irish people, Travellers and many others.”

The fight against racism today – certainly in this country – is centred on defence of Black and Asian people. This in no way discounts the experience of Jews. Jewish people in this country of course face prejudice and racism, in particular the Haredim, who in their dress are highly visible, but it is not institutional, structural racism that fundamentally affects their prospects and outcomes.

Yes, Diane’s letter should have been drafted with more care – but this is no ground for suspension from the Labour Party.

Click here for analysis of Abbott’s statement and a record of the rampant, unpunished Islamophobia, anti-Black and anti-GRT racism of the Labour right.

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