Last summer, Labour found itself in a bitter row over antisemitism, with many Jewish leaders condemning the party for its handling of the issue.
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, accused Jeremy Corbyn of “leading the Labour Party into a dark place of ugly conspiracy theories” and said the opposition had “become a home for overt antisemites and antisemitism”.
Labour adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in 2016.
The sticking point last year was whether to also incorporate the IHRA’s eleven examples of antisemitic behaviour.
After months of wrangling, in September 2018, the party said it had adopted “all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism”.
But FactCheck can reveal that there is no mention of the IHRA, its definition, or any of the eleven examples in the 2019 Labour Party Rulebook — or the section of their website that deals with Labour’s code of conduct.
What was promised?
On 4 September 2018, a Labour spokesperson said that the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) “has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.”
The NEC has the power to update codes of conduct without waiting for approval from the party conference. But eight months after the announcement, it is not possible to find the IHRA definition or its examples anywhere in the 2019 Labour Party Rulebook.
Are the IHRA examples included in any other published party documents?
There’s a section on Labour’s website called “Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and other forms of racism”.
You might expect this page to include the IHRA definition and its examples — but it doesn’t.
At the bottom, there is a link to the now-defunct 2018 party rulebook, which the webpage says “contains all of Labour’s codes of conduct”. The 2018 rulebook does not include the IHRA definition or its examples either.
Labour’s website contains only one document that uses the IHRA definition of antisemitism: the 2017 Race and Faith Manifesto. But crucially, this doesn’t include the eleven IHRA examples.
In July 2018, the Jewish Chronicle published what they understood to be Labour’s internal guidelines on handling antisemitism.
This document, titled “NEC Code of Conduct: Antisemitism”, sets out “examples of conduct likely to be regarded as antisemitic” that were “in part derived from the IHRA working examples”.
As that language suggests, the guidelines don’t include the full suite of IHRA examples — in fact, they omit the following four:
- “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”
- “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”
- “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.”
- “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
It’s not clear whether that Code of Conduct still applies, or whether it’s been superseded by the announcement that Labour has adopted all eleven IHRA examples.
What do Labour say?
We asked Labour to point us to a public document that includes the eleven IHRA examples. They were unable to do so.
FactCheck understands that not every policy adopted by the NEC is placed on the party’s website, including the definitions of Islamophobia and disability.
The Conservatives have form too
FactCheck caught the Conservatives in an almost-identical omission last year. In July, we reported that the Conservative rulebook didn’t use the term antisemitism, despite Theresa May’s assertion that the party had adopted the IHRA definition.
Just hours after we published our article, the Conservative party webpage seemed to have been quietly updated to include a mention of the IHRA that wasn’t there before.