UK Jewish Labour activists seek lifetime ban for anti-Semites

A number of UK Labour Party activists are pushing to change party rules to make it easier to ban anti-Semites from the party, which has been battered by a series of anti-Semitism controversies.

Despite strong condemnations by leading Labour officials of the seemingly never-ending list of anti-Semitic incidents within the party – including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, who has called for anti-Semites to be summarily expelled – British Jewish community leaders feel not enough is actually being done to stamp the phenomenon out.

Those sentiments were echoed by Jewish Labour Movement leader Jeremy Newmark, who is helping to spearhead a campaign to change Labour's dismal record on anti-Semitism – and, he hopes, win back the droves of former Jewish Labour party voters who have abandoned the party in recent months.

"Everybody's talking about zero tolerance of anti-Semitism but it's become apparent because of a spate of incidents over the last couple of months that the rules and processes of the party don't provide adequate provision to deal with it," he told the BBC.

Newmark aims for his motion – which would ban the use of racist, anti-Semitic or Islamophobic language by party members – to be adopted by local Labour Party chapters, and then endorsed by the party's annual conference later this year. A number of local factions have already agreed to consider the motion, which has secured the backing of at least two MPs so far, as well as at least one shadow minister, according to reports.

MP Wes Streeting said his party needed firmer action on anti-Semitism.

"We've now got a problem where too many of our Jewish members and people out there in the country think the Labour Party is apathetic to anti-Semitism and it isn't a place for Jewish members," he said. 

"I think we've got to make sure that this party with its historic commitment to tackling all forms of prejudice including anti-Semitism is still a place for Jewish people."

The new motion comes on the heels of yet another expose of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party, after a local councilor stepped down after it was revealed she had posted anti-Semitic comments on Twitter, and hailed Adolf Hitler as the "greatest man in history."

A Labour spokeswoman told the BBC: "We welcome the contributions of Labour's affiliates and members in this important debate. Rule changes can be submitted to Labour's annual conference where they are democratically agreed by delegates."


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