This conference confirmed Labour’s obsessive stand

Delegates wave Palestinian flags at the Labour Party's annual conference. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire via Jewish News)
Delegates wave Palestinian flags at the Labour Party's annual conference. (Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire via Jewish News)

The journey to Liverpool for the start of Labour Party conference marked the end of the worst year in the history of the Jewish community’s relationship with the party –one in which Jews took to the streets of Manchester and London to declare, Enough is enoug.’

It would be easy to forget the support we have within the broader Labour movement. JLM’s conference rally and Labour Friends of Israel’s annual reception had capacity for hundreds and both were overflowing with friends and allies. 

Delegates were moved to tears by the testimony of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen survivor Susan Pollack at the Holocaust Educational Trust fringe, as she and Luciana Berger reflected on the resurgence of Holocaust denial and antisemitism, especially within our party.

This mood was reflected on conference floor, when Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry delivered a defiant speech, condemning antisemites and those wishing for Israel’s destruction as fascists. 

Calling for their expulsion, her speech should have been the one Jeremy Corbyn delivered.

But the fact that those who have been expelled were visible at conference, being embraced by MPs and trade union leaders, obliterated the suggestion by Corbyn that he has done all he can. 

Once more in his speech Corbyn ducked the opportunity to show personal leadership in tacking antisemtism on the left. Prime ministers must be brave go above and beyond every day expectations and take ultimate personal responsibility for the actions they take on behalf of all of us.  

Despite the flags on conference floor, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Labour policy remains for a two-state solution; “a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestine”. 

But the frosty reception to strong words on tackling antisemitism from General Secretary Jennie Formby at the start of conference, compared to repeated standing ovations during the debate on Palestine, which were themselves stronger and louder than for the debates on Brexit, Windrush and others, set the tone.

The absence of debates on global conflicts like Yemen, Syria and Venezuela exemplified the now obsessive pattern of behaviour that is common in many parts of the party. 

In spite of the mood music at conference, proud Jewish members took to conference floor wearing kippot as an act of defiance.

Replicating the phenomena that has seen JLM grow from hundreds to thousands in three short years, Jews at conference stood proud. 

Determined to stay, stand and fight antisemitism, and not be bullied and intimidated out of our party.


About the Author
Adam Langleben is a former Labour Councillor in the London Borough of Barnet and a member of the National Executive Committee of the Jewish Labour Movement.
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