Jewish campaigners say they feel welcome again but ‘purge’ protests go on

Council leader describes 'emotional moment'

Thursday, 30th September 2021 — By Richard Osley in Brighton


Phil Rosenberg at the conference

ACTIVISTS said the Labour Party was making Jewish members feel welcome at conference again.

Former Camden councillors Mike Katz, one of the first people to shake Sir Keir Starmer’s hand as the leader left the main stage of the conference yesterday (Wednesday), and Phil Rosenberg both said there had been a change of atmosphere.

The party voted on Sunday to set up a new independent complaints process following the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)’s investigation into the handling of anti-semitism complaints.

Its report had said that Labour had failed to prevent incidents and there had been examples of harassment.


Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has seen the whip removed from him by his successor Sir Keir Starmer after comments he made on the day the report was published.

“The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media,” he said.

He has also condemned anti-semitism and asserted any racist should be removed from the party.

Outside the conference centre, chairs of local branches, including Hampstead and Kilburn’s Pete Firmin, protested against their auto-exclusion from the party; Mr Firmin was sanctioned for allowing a motion supporting Mr Corbyn’s reinstatement to be discussed.

Mr Starmer said that the “ball is in Jeremy’s court” now, having demanded an apology  as a condition of his re-admittance.

Pete Firmin is ‘auto-excluded’ after allowing a motion supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s reinstatement to be discussed in Hampstead and Kilburn

Mr Rosenberg, formerly of the Board of Deputies, said: “Conference has been a really re-energising experience. The last few conferences have been pretty horrible as a Jewish member and clearly some challenges remain, but there really has been the sense of a corner being turned.”

Council leader Cllr Georgia Gould said: “There’s no doubt that as a Jewish leader it has been painful with how difficult the party has found it dealing with anti-semitism.

“It was a really emotional moment for me and so many Jewish members to see a resounding victory for the recommendations of the EHRC. I think that is a change and I hope that we will restore trust from our Jewish communities, and never again will we allow anti-semitism to be rife in our party. ”

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