Local Hastings Borough councillor Dany Louise has resigned from the Labour Party. 

In her resignation letter dated 13th February addressed to Council leader Peter Chowney, Cllr Louise accused the party leadership of making the Labour Party “a welcoming environment for antisemites”. She cited poor treatment of Luciana Berger MP and Dame Margaret Hodge MP, and warned of “the sort of self-righteous dogmatism, ignorance and denial of facts which enabled the Holocaust”. She closed by indicating her intention to serve out her term on Hastings Borough Council as an independent councillor.

In a subsequent email to HIP,  she wrote: “I am committed to continuing to work hard for all my Old Hastings constituents, and to represent the ward in Council to the best of my ability until my term finishes, along with Cllr James Bacon. I have been a Labour voter all my life, and my views are unchanged in terms of wanting to see a rebalanced economy and a significantly fairer society that values every citizen.”

Allegations of antisemitism in the Labour membership have dogged the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Many incoming members hold strong views
on the actions of the Israeli government and also pass adverse comments on global banking financiers. But others regard it as evidence of antisemitism when the strongest and most passionate criticism of nation states is directed at the only Jewish nation, and when the global banking financiers that are name-checked are Jewish. What about the crimes of Saudi Arabia against Yemen? What about the human rights abuses of the United Arab Emirates? What about J.P. Morgan and the rest of the banking elite?

Reality is difficult to unpick from paranoia. Labour general secretary Jennie Formby released data on disciplinary cases concerning alleged antisemitism within the party following requests for information made at last week’s parliamentary meeting. After the release of the data, Dr Alan Maddison wrote an article for Jewish Voice for Labour, a group whose members are generally non-Zionist, pro-Palestinian, Jewish Labour supporters. The article, entitled Antisemitism: no justification for singling out Labour, begins: “Information on the precise number of reported allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party has just been made public. This data has confirmed that previous media attacks on Labour have been grossly exaggerated…. We discover that there have been reports of antisemitic abuse from a very small minority of Labour members, but no justification at all for the claims of it being rampant!”

He goes on to state: “Margaret Hodge MP was also informed that of the 200 dossiers she had submitted, involving 111 individuals, only 20 were found to be Labour Party members.”

Dr Maddison points to a survey conducted by the Institute of Jewish Policy Research which he interprets as suggesting that antisemitic beliefs are less common in the Labour Party than in other political parties and society in general.

But the problem is, in part, one of definition. Some Israeli supporters regard any pro-Palestinian sentiments, including support for Palestinians to return to their previous homes, and the Boycott, Divest, Sanction campaign against Israel, as antisemitic. The Labour Party – very specifically, the leadership of the party, and one individual within that leadership, Jeremy Corbyn – is being asked to draw a line in the sand, with the demand for very concrete instruction as to what is not acceptable to say about Israel. The bar has been set very high, and Mr Corbyn’s detractors will settle for nothing less.  

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