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A RECENTLY suspended member of Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) has spoken out against “frightening” efforts to “destroy” the Labour left.
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi was notified that her membership had been suspended just weeks after she was voted onto the NEC, meaning she was prevented from attending committee meetings held at the Labour party conference in Liverpool this week.
Speaking to the Morning Star outside Labour conference, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi, who is a prominent member of the left-wing Jewish Voice for Labour group, said she was angered by the suspension.
“We speculated for weeks on how the leadership would react and what they would do to prevent me taking my seat because … we know the leadership is desperate not to have the views of Jewish Voice for Labour expressed on the NEC.
“But to have it happen almost instantly and just a few days before conference … just seemed quite extraordinary.”
The reason given for her suspension was speaking at an event hosted by a proscribed group. However she has questioned why the decision to suspend her was made at this time, given the event took place one year ago.
She accused the party leadership of undermining the identity of left-wing Jewish members of the party who are critical of Israel.
“This is not just one incident referring to one person, it’s a campaign since JVL was created,” she continued. “They call us anti-semitism deniers, they say we consort with holocaust deniers and these are total fabrications.”
Ms Wimborne-Idrissi is among almost 60 Jewish Labour party members who have been investigated over allegations of anti-semitism.
JVL claims that the party’s disciplinary procedures have been deliberately misused to “purge” left-wing members, as supported by evidence in the recently published Forde report
“It’s actually frightening because the main party of opposition in this country is one which is prioritising destroying people on the left who fight for workers rights, human rights, internationalism, solidarity with the oppressed,” she added.
“If that is their priority, how on earth can we expect them to act if they were in government?”
At a press briefing on Tuesday, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi said her suspension from the party was “an example of the factional abuse of the disciplinary system” exposed in recently aired Al Jazeera programmes on the issue.
The programmes look at leaked files suggesting senior members of the party abused the disciplinary system to remove supporters of former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Ms Wimborne-Idrissi has received support from former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, who previously wrote to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with concerns about the “brutal” treatment of left-wing Jewish Labour members.
Mr McDonnell called on Tuesday for the Labour leader to launch an inquiry into findings of the Al Jazeera documentaries, which included cases of false allegations of racism against supporters of Mr Corbyn with the intended aim to suspend or expel them from the party.
“What has been coming forward, if true, is really shocking, and the party needs to consider those programmes,” he said. “We can’t move on until we can be transparent about what really went on.”
Also present at the briefing was Andrew Feinstein, a Jewish Labour member who served as an MP under Nelson Mandela in South Africa, and was among those interviewed by Al Jazeera.
Mr Feinstein, who also has worked in genocide prevention, including lecturing at Auschwitz, said he too was under investigation by the party.
“My response to my notice of investigation is … is the party asking me to choose anti-racism as defined by my constituency MP Keir Starmer or should I continue to live my principles and values as taught to me by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” he said.
Mr Feinstein said it was "frankly repulsive" that life-long anti-racist Jewish members of the party has been accused of anti-semitism as a means to attack the left.
He added: “Now Keir Starmer has a choice; he can continue to target anti-racists who are critical of Israel or he can actually deal with the problem of racism in the Labour Party.”
Other members of JVL include the group’s co-chair Jenny Manson who told the Star: “I get really angry - how dare they call us anti-Semitic? And also, how dare they suggest that we don't understand anti-Semitism? It's a misrepresentation of what anti-Semitism is.”
She accused Labour and the mainstream media of "destroying and ruining lives and silencing Palestinian voices.
"Palestinians can't talk about the suffering they received or the fact that their families were chucked out [of Palestine].”
The Labour Party was approached for comment.
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