Jewish members felt unsafe at Labour Party meetings

I READ the letter from Jewish Voice for Labour’s Leah Levane and Jenny Mason with disbelief.

Unlike Leah Levane and Jenny Mason, I was there. I am a long-serving Labour councillor in Liverpool Riverside and was Louise Ellman’s election agent.

I attended most meetings of the Riverside Constituency Labour Party between 2015 and 2019 and personally witnessed aggressive, intimidatory anti-semitic bullying against Louise.

A small but vocal minority of members attending meetings were responsible for this, but more worrying perhaps was the hostile environment for Jewish members that allowed such behaviour to thrive between 2015 and 2019.

Several Jewish members, some of many years standing, told me that they felt unsafe attending Labour Party meetings.

Examples of antisemitic incidents I witnessed included obsessive accusatory questioning of our then-MP about Israel at almost every monthly meeting, Louise being told she had dual loyalties, a delegitimisation of Israel’s right to exist and the validity of any sort of two-state solution and deliberately offensive comparisons between Hamas terror tunnels in Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto.

All of these relied on age-old antisemitic tropes about Jews that are rightly condemned in the IHRA definition.

The now-infamous Kayla Bibby was allowed to remain as an office holder in the Labour Party, attend constituency meeting and contribute to this toxicity, even after posting neo-Nazi grade antisemitic imagery from far-right American websites.

Similar things happened in the neighbouring Liverpool Wavertree constituency where Luciana Berger was the MP.

The action the Labour Party nationally took against those responsible for this was wholly inadequate. It has only been since the election of Keir Starmer as Labour leader and the publication of the EHRC report that the Labour Party has started to address this.

To claim, as Leah Levane and Jenny Mason do, that this was nothing more than “political differences” is a disgrace.

Nick Small,
Labour & Co-operative councillor for Central Ward, Liverpool.

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