It’s been reported by the BBC that the Labour Party has suspended Thanet Momentum’s Jackie Walker for “controversial remarks” she allegedly made at a training session for dealing with anti-Semitism held during the Labour Party conference.
This is the second time Jackie’s been suspended by the Labour Party. Earlier this year she was suspended for alleged anti-Semitic remarks on her Facebook page. At that time the case against her was investigated and dismissed by the party.
The national Momentum steering committee is also considering removing her from her position as vice chair. It is due to come to a decision on Monday.
Norman Thomas, chair of Momentum Thanet, was at the training session which is at the centre of the allegations and strongly refutes that anything she said would warrant any action against her from either the Labour Party or Momentum. Below is his detailed account of the controversy.
REPORT ON JACKIE WALKING MEETING
By Norman Thomas, Chair of Momentum Thanet & Member of South Thanet Labour Party
I and other colleagues attended a training session held by the Jewish Labour Movement at the recent Labour Party Conference and we can all categorically deny that Jackie made any anti-Semitic comments whatsoever.
Various print and online publications have quoted three issues as being the basis for criticism of Jackie. Each one is without foundation.
First, it was alleged that Jackie had made comments suggesting additional security was not needed for Jewish children in schools. She said nothing of the sort.
The presenter of the session quoted the presence of increased security in schools in Britain as evidence of increased anti-Semitism in this country. Jackie simply pointed out that the increased level of security in schools was not necessarily down to the presence of Jewish children in those schools.
Second, it was alleged that Jackie had said that she had not been unable to obtain a definition of anti-Semitism she could work with – implying that she was in some way sceptical about the existence of anti-Semitism.
In reality, she said that she hadn’t heard a practical definition of anti-Semitism at the training session we were attending . Indeed several other people asked the presenter of the session for his definition of anti-Semitism – but he seemed unable or unwilling to give one.
In a training session which purported to help Labour Party members deal with issues relating to anti-Semitism a working definition of anti-Semitism was a fundamental lack.
Third, and perhaps most defamatory of all, it was alleged in the reports that Jackie had “criticised” Holocaust Memorial Day, as though she didn’t want people to remember the Holocaust.
Jackie certainly did not criticise Holocaust Memorial Day. Instead she expressed her wish that it was open to people who had suffered in other holocausts. This did lead to several other people in the session saying that in fact it already was. Jackie replied that it didn’t seem to be widely advertised as such.
Whatever anyone’s feelings about exactly who is and who isn’t entitled to be remembered on Holocaust Memorial Day, what she said could not be in any way construed as anti-Semitic.
Overall, I can say that the reports of this meeting, including a highly selective piece of secret filming, which have been circulated in the media, in no way fairly reflect what was said there. Other individuals also present at the meeting, including Jewish people, agree with my comments and heartily deplore the fantastically distorted way it has been reported.
I note, too, some reports of this event quoted other examples of Jackie’s alleged “anti-Semitism”, all of which were examined and dismissed at a previous inquiry by the Labour Party some months ago.
This is a blatant attempt to smear the reputation of a person who herself is of Jewish descent, whose partner is Jewish and who has spent a large part of her life campaigning against racism as well as suffering racist attacks on her own behalf.
It seems that Jackie has fallen foul of false allegations which have been used against so many of the people whose real crime has been simply to support Jeremy Corbyn.
For either Momentum or the Labour Party to take any action against Jackie Walker whatsoever on the basis of what she said at this meeting would constitute injustice on a grand scale.
SUPPORT JACKIE WALKER
If you want to express your support for Jackie Walker, contact Momentum’s Emma Rees on firstname.lastname@example.org and the Labour Party’s general secretary Iain Mcnicol via their website www.labour.org.uk.
See also momentumthanet.org.uk