The decision made by the Labour Party's National Executive Committee (NEC) this afternoon is nothing short of disgraceful. The Party had an opportunity to put its values into practice, to demonstrate how seriously they take the issue of antisemitism and to show that Labour Clubs are welcome spaces for Jewish students, but they have failed miserably. They have let Jewish students down and in doing so, they have created an atmosphere in which antisemitism may thrive without fear of being challenged.
In the year since Alex Chalmers resigned from his position as Co-Chair of Oxford University Labour Club (OULC), Jewish students at Oxford have provided evidence to three separate inquiries; they've not had any update from the Labour Party during the complaint process; and have now been told that their complaints do not warrant disciplinary action.
This is despite recommendations for a written warning, and despite Baroness Royall’s report stating that there had been “some anti-Semitic behaviour and it is appropriate for the disciplinary procedures of our party to be invoked.” What more would need to happen for the Labour Party to take action against antisemitism?
Today’s decision demonstrates the unacceptable way that the Labour Party have treated Jewish students at Oxford.
The alleged antisemitic incidents that took place at OULC should not be seen in isolation. They were, and at times still are, part of a culture which the University of Oxford, Oxford University Students' Union (OUSU), and now the Labour Party, have failed to grasp.
We refuse to rest until action is taken, and we will be working with Oxford J-Soc and Jewish students at the university to explore further avenues to achieve this.
Oxford J-Soc statement
Oxford University Jewish Society Statement on Labour Party NEC Disputes Panel’s Decision
The Labour Party NEC Disputes Panel’s decision to clear two individuals from OULC of anti-Semitism is utterly shameful and demonstrates yet again that the Labour Party is unwilling to confront the anti-Semitism which takes place in its ranks. This decision is bitterly disappointing and will only continue the trend of Labour spaces becoming increasingly frightening and alienating for Jewish students. It is hard to believe that following Baroness Royall finding that the incidents in the OULC took place, that the NEC decided to drop the case.
At every stage of this process the Labour Party has sought to help the perpetrators of anti-Semitic abuse and to deny justice for its victims. Over the past year we have seen the Labour Party hide a Labour Students report, refuse to release the Royall Report in full, publish the Chakrabarti Report, which appeared to whitewash a number of issues, and, finally today, the decision to not pursue disciplinary action against those OULC members who have been accused of anti-Semitism. This decision should not be seen in isolation, but rather as part of the wider story, in which the concerns of Oxford’s Jewish students have been repeatedly ignored.
Despite this setback, we will continue to fight for justice for Jewish students who have been the victims of anti-Semitism, and work to ensure that Jewish students can feel comfortable being involved with the OULC.