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LOCAL Labour branches have been ordered by the party not to discuss investigations into anti-semitism, a related libel settlement and the adoption of a controversial definition of anti-Jewish prejudice.
Labour general security David Evans, who took up the post in May, told constituency parties that the recent Panorama settlement and the Equality and Human Rights Commission reports are “not competent business for discussion by local parties.”
He added that they should not consider motions that “repudiate” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-semitism.
He also warned that motions seeking to “undermine or contradict” the court statements by Labour in the libel case would “create a risk of further legal proceedings.”
Last month, Labour decided to apologise unreservedly and pay “substantial damages” to seven former party employees and BBC journalist John Ware rather than fight the libel case.
A Labour member, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Star: “We have only just been allowed to start having decision-making meetings after they were completely unnecessarily shut down under the new leadership in early April.
“That recent opening-up again was in response to lots of pressure from the grassroots. But now they are restricting what we can discuss.
“There seems to be free speech for the leaders, but not for the ordinary members whose subs keep the party going.”
The party member added that it might be “quicker and easier to list what we can talk about in Labour Party meetings than what we can’t.”
Jewish Voice for Labour said “there is nothing illegitimate” in members seeking to debate the differing views that are widespread at all levels of the party.
In a statement, the group said: “In attempting to prevent debate about such issues, the general secretary gives the impression that the party leadership realises only too well that its decisions are flawed and will not withstand critical debate.
“It suggests that our new leaders do not want members to be able to influence or change party policy.
“We call on the general secretary to withdraw this draconian attempt to silence the membership by forbidding legitimate and necessary debate on important matters of concern to us all.”
Labour Activists 4 Justice, a group of party members hit by disciplinary action, have set up a crowdfunder for a legal challenge to the “unjust and unfair” processes.
Donations can be made at https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justice-4-labour-party-members/
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