Theresa May appointed John Mann government anti-Semitism adviser in one of her last acts as Prime Minister this week.
The Labour MP, who heads the All Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Semitism, welcomed the opportunity to be a point of contact for the Jewish community in a statement.
His initial task is to assess how Jewish teenagers see a future in Britain.
“Anti-Semitism is racism,” noted the outgoing Prime Minister. “It has absolutely no place in our society and we must fight its bitter scourge wherever it rears its head.”
May added Mann was “without exception, a key voice on this matter”.
She explained, “He has frequently campaigned in the House of Commons on this issue and has tirelessly used his role as a politician to speak out on behalf of victims of anti-Jewish racism.
“I am confident he will bring the level of cross-party independent advice needed to advise Government and to ensure we see progress on this very important issue.”
The Jewish Leadership Council applauded the appointment.
“This is a significant step in the Government’s continued effort to take decisive action against anti-Semitism,” they said.
Before the organisation held its annual general meeting, the Bassetlaw MP said the All-Party group would reflect on everything it had done over the past 12 months and plan for the future.
“It should not be for the Jewish community to have to lead the fight against anti-Jewish racism,” he noted. “It is vital non-Jewish allies call out anti-Semitism and show others how to combat it.”
Highlighting a 2005 inquiry identified sources of anti-Semitism as the far-right, the hard-left and Islamist extremism, he explained, “We highlighted these threats, of equal concern, whilst others were ignoring them. Despite our clarion calls, and the efforts of our group and other anti-racists, the situation has worsened, particularly with the growth of social media.”
Mann added, “On the far-left, the socialism of fools has taken grip once again. The Labour party has had to expel members for engaging in conspiracism and Holocaust denial.
“The Jewish community faces constant undermining and a type of treatment far beyond the Macpherson approach to handling investigations of hate, namely that the allegations be probed with due diligence and the perceived victims treated with appropriate sensitivity. Denouncing complaints about anti-Semitism appears to have become akin to opposition to the Iraq war, namely an admission pass on some parts of the left.”
Stressing a need to remain “actively cross-party”, he concluded, “We want to lay the groundwork for proper discussions and understanding of anti-Semitism. We will not stop.”
Mann continued, “We won’t give anti-Semites a chance to rest, we’ll be indefatigable in the face of anti-Jewish racism is our pledge, that will remain our constant.”
Meantime, National Executive Committee members backed initiatives to speed up anti-Semitism complaints on Tuesday.
It is expected to be formally endorsed at Labour’ party’s conference in Brighton in September.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson withdrew calls for a fully independent complaints process to deal with complaints.
A Labour spokesperson said: “This proposal will be further developed so that the NEC can finalise the details of a rule change that is fair and legally robust.
“The vast majority of Labour members are motivated by equality, justice and fairness, and despise anti-Semitism. As the data released yesterday shows, anti-Semitism complaints relate to a small minority of members, but one anti-Semite is one too many.
“The party is taking decisive and robust action against anti-Semitism and the rate at which anti-Semitism cases are dealt with has increased more than four-fold since Jennie Formby became general secretary.”
But the Jewish Labour Movement expressed concern over the measures as Corbyn supporters could influence in the disciplinary process.
“We can’t have any confidence in these new proposals. This is just rearranging the deckchairs,” he said.
“The NEC is elected on factional slates on the basis of political patronage. It has an in-built majority for the left which does what the leadership of the Party tells it to.
“We know we can’t rely on the NEC to make decisions in the interest of Jewish members. It’s failed for years to guard against factional and political interference.”
Statistics released by Labour on Monday showed anti-Semitism complaints against 625 Labour members in the first six months of 2019 but only eight were expelled.
“How is this getting a grip and tackling the problem seriously?” posed Katz.
“Nothing short of a fully independent process, first asked for by the Jewish community way back in April 2018, is even going to begin to suggest that the party leadership really cares about tackling institutional anti-Jewish racism.”
Labour backbenchers criticised Shadow Cabinet colleagues for being “actively complicit” in smearing whistleblowers to anti-Semitism in a devastating indictment ahead of a Shadow Cabinet meeting on Monday.
The document, co-signed by Jewish Labour Movement chair Ruth Smeeth, Wes Streeting and John Mann, called for the frontbench to “examine their consciences”.
“Since the broadcast of the Panorama documentary, too many members of the Shadow Cabinet have been silent bystanders to, or worse still, actively complicit in, an officially sanctioned spin campaign against victims of racism and whistleblowers,” they noted.
“We ask you to consider how you would react to any other employer acting in this way and on how this reflects on our Party as a champion of equality and workers’ rights.”
Signatories said the programme was “a wake up call” to Shadow Cabinet members “deluded” into dismissing complaints as those with “an axe to grind”.
They added, “We can’t go on like this. The bunker mentality around the Leader is causing immense damage to the Labour Party. Monday’s meeting of the Shadow Cabinet is an important opportunity to turn things around. We urge you not to waste it. Individually, and collectively, you are the leadership of the Labour Party. It is time for you to step up to the mark.”
By Leah Waxler