Wednesday, October 02, 2019

Labour Constituency Schedules Vote of No-Confidence Against Jewish MP for Kol Nidre

I don't want to say this is "peak Labour" because it seems like they're always capable of reaching new, er, heights, but my goodness this might be peak Labour:
A Labour branch in Dame Louise Ellman’s Liverpool Riverside constituency is to debate a motion calling for her resignation – on the evening of Yom Kippur.
The St Michael’s Labour branch is to meet on Tuesday evening - Kol Nidre - to discuss a motion of no confidence in the Jewish MP.
A motion, proposed by a member named Ritchie Hunter, cites a JC article that reported Dame Louise's speech in which she said she “understands why Jews would seriously consider leaving Britain if Corbyn became PM".
The motion says: "We have no confidence that our MP Louise Ellman will carry out the wishes of our CLP and our Riverside constituency or that she will follow Labour Party policy.”
It adds: “This branch therefore call on our Riverside MP, Louise Ellman, to resign.”
I just feel the need to walk through this more slowly, in order to emphasize all the layers here:

The mind boggles. It boggles.


Andy DM said...

So I want to understand what your objection is here:

Based just on the JC article you linked to and a knowledge of the Labour Party rulebook it looks like the following has happened.

1) One member put in a motion to Liverpool Riverside CLP expressing no-confidence in the sitting Labour MP and calling upon her to resign (note that this is a symbolic motion, the local CLP does have the power to decide who stands for them at an election, but they cannot recall a sitting MP or compel them to resign)

2) The meeting’s chair ruled that the member had not given sufficient notice of his motion and therefore the motion was not in order and could not be discussed.

3) The meeting’s chair suggested that the member take their motion to their local Labour Party branch (this is not technically required but has some merit, I’ve been on a CLP executive and wouldn’t want contentious and non-emergency motions on the agenda without it having branch support)

4) Whereever I’ve lived, Labour Party branch meetings are held monthly on a set day monthly (my branch meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month). My assumption is that St.Michael’s Branch of Liverpool Riverside meets every 2nd Tuesday. In every branch I’ve heard of, meetings are in the evenings because members generally work during the day.

5) In October 2019, the evening of the 2nd Tuesday happens to be the start of Yom Kippur.

6) The member who wants to pass the no-confidence motion seems to have no control over the date of branch meetings (were he the Branch Chair or Branch Secretary then I assume the JC would have mentioned it).

So what’s your objection? Is it that the Labour Party holds some organisation meetings on Yom Kippur at all? Is your objection that this member brought it to the next available branch meeting after not being allowed to bring it to a meeting that wasn’t on Yom Kippur. Is it that you don’t believe local Labour Parties should be allowed to discuss no-confidence in a sitting MP? I just don’t understand what the problem is.

David Schraub said...

How about "given the context, the local branch party and/or the motion proponents should voluntarily delay discussion of the motion until the next meeting because yes, sometimes appearances matter and it's reasonable to expect a modicum of extra effort. Also, the motion proponents should be roundly excoriated for suggesting that Ellman's solidarity with scared UK Jews makes her unfit to serve as a Labour MP"?

I can't tell if your account of what happened here suggests that motions like these can be brought by any old crank, without any indication that they have more than trivial support among the local party membership, and nonetheless are entitled to air time. If that's the case, then the problem is this crank, and perhaps the party isn't doing anything wrong (save that it should push to reschedule this agenda item for the following month's branch meeting -- or even *gasp* reschedule the date of this meeting). But if these motions only get air time insofar as it is believed that they have substantial, non-trivial levels of support, then it reflects a deeper toxicity in the party proportional to its level of support.

Andy DM said...

There's two structures that a Constituency Labour Party can have, the traditional one is that Branches, Unions and affiliated Socialist Societies (like the Jewish Labour Movement) elect delegates to the General Management Committee of the CLP and that would have been the first meeting discussed by the JC. The newer model invites any member to attend an All-Members meeting that takes the place of the GMC. I don't know which one Liverpool Riverside has but either way one member can submit a motion but if it's a GMC constituency then it will be a member that's been elected to attend from some other part of the Party. A motion does need to be seconded before discussion, it's not clear if that's happened here.

I used to think that Louise Ellman was a good and solid Labour MP. I grew up with her often on local news as Leader of Lancashire County Council which she was for years before becoming an MP. We'd probably agree on 99% of political issues but I don't agree that anti-semitism is any more rife in the Labour Party now than it was under Blair and no more rife than it is in the rest of British society. Where I have sympathy with the no-confidence motion is that the fundamental duty of a Labour MP is to support a Labour government and Louise has said herself that she thinks Corbyn isn't fit to govern. She's got every right to think that, but stand under a different banner and allow Liverpool Riverside a chance to elect someone who wants a socialist government in power.

Why do you think it's toxic if the majority of Liverpool Riverside Labour Party members don't want Louise as their Labour MP?

stettiner said...

Labour calls itself an anti-racist party, so saying "anti-semitism is any more rife in the Labour Party now than it was under Blair and no more rife than it is in the rest of British society" is the wrong answer.

Doc_P said...

If antisemitism is "any more rife in the Labour Party now than it was under Blair" why does the vast majority of British Jews feel that it is a significant problem now when they were very comfortable supporting Labour under Blair? Why doesn't the vast majority of British Jews feel that they no longer have a home in Labour when it was always their political home since its inception 100 years ago?