Open letter to Unite’s Executive Council, Labour Party NEC representatives and Labour Party Conference delegation

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We the undersigned call on you to oppose the adoption by the Labour party of those IHRA examples of antisemitism that would threaten legitimate support for justice for Palestinians.

We were concerned to read in his blog post for Huffington Post on 16 August that our General Secretary, Len McCluskey, while explaining clearly why some were problematic, argued that “It would be for the best if all eleven [of the IHRA examples] were now agreed, so the party can move on”.

The IHRA working definition of antisemitism is just 38 words and unproblematic. It was adopted by the Labour Party some time ago. The IHRA added 11 examples of what it says antisemitism “could, taking into account the overall context, include”.

The Labour Party needed a clear definition for disciplinary purposes, and it was aware of concerns about the IHRA examples being used to restrict legitimate discussion of Israel and Palestine. These concerns are held by a wide range of people and organisations including Kenneth S Stern (their original author), many Jewish groups, the Society of Black Lawyers, and the Home Affairs Select Committee.

The Labour Party NEC proposed a new Code of Conduct on Antisemitism based on the IHRA definition and examples, but with more clarity and detail, some additional examples and, more contentiously, not directly including the following four examples from the IHRA guidelines:

  1. 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.

This is included elsewhere (point 14) in the NEC Code.

  1. 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.

This is discussed in detail in the code, making clear that to deny Jewish people the same right to self-determination as any other people is antisemitism (point 12), but that the discussion of the foundation of the Israeli state, its impact on Palestinians, the implications of Israel’s definition of itself as a “Jewish state” or its differential treatment of different peoples is legitimate (points 13-14).

  1. Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

This is included in point 13, but without the word “other” which presupposes that Israel is a democratic nation, a legitimate point of debate given the treatment of Palestinians.

  1. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

This is addressed in point 16, which replaces the IHRA vague statement that this could be an example of antisemitism depending on the overall context, with an explanation of that context.

The publication of the proposed NEC Code triggered another round of allegations of antisemitism against the Labour Party and its leadership, including unsubstantiated claims of “institutional antisemitism” in Labour, that Corbyn himself is an antisemite, and that he represents an “existential threat to Jewish life” in Britain.

There is antisemitism in the Labour Party, as in other political parties and wider society. It must be opposed and challenged unconditionally, irrespective of loyalties or disagreements on other issues.

At the same time as tackling examples of antisemitism and other forms of racism in our ranks, we recognise that many of the attacks have different motivations. Len McCluskey’s blog post rightly talks about the desire in some quarters to see a right-wing split from Labour. As well as those who see the Labour Party’s move to the left as a threat, there are those in the UK and around the world who fear a government led by Corbyn because of his long support for the cause of justice for Palestinians.

The concerns that adoption of all the IHRA examples could prevent legitimate discussion and support for Palestinian rights have already borne out by experience.

Last year a panel on “Debunking misconceptions on Palestine and the importance of BDS” [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel] was banned by the University of Central Lancashire citing the IHRA definition, after pressure from pro-Israel groups. Barnet council cited the IHRA definition in treating all individuals and organisations who supported BDS as antisemitic and banning them from using council facilities.

Unite’s policy, set at our conferences in 2014 and 2016, describes Israel as an “apartheid state” and supports BDS. Encouraging the Labour Party to adopt a definition which has already been used to brand such policies as antisemitic would undermine Unite’s democratic process.

Unite should continue to both support Palestinian rights and oppose antisemitism, and must not jeopardise the first on the false grounds that this helps the second. These are matters of principle, not political expediency. But we disagree with Len McCluskey that adopting flawed rules on antisemitism that undermine the Palestinian cause will mean that “the party can move on”. Many of those calling for the adoption of all 11 IHRA examples have already made clear they are looking for the expulsion thousands of Labour Party members. If they would be expelled under the IHRA examples but not under the NEC Code, this means their expulsions would be based on criticism of Israel, not antisemitism. Giving in to these demands will feed the false attacks on Labour, not bring them to an end, because many of the attacks are based on opposition to the left and the Palestinian rights, not on genuine attempts to tackle antisemitism. Indeed, the conflation of antisemitism with criticism of Israel undermines genuine attempts to tackle antisemitism.

We call on Unite’s Executive Council, Labour Party NEC representatives and Labour Party Conference delegation to stand firm against pressure from the right and from opponents of Palestinian rights, to oppose the adoption of the problematic IHRA examples which threaten free speech on Palestine and the Palestine solidarity movement, and to challenge genuine antisemitism wherever it appears.

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Signatures uploaded so far (this is only updated periodically):

Adam Di Chiara, H&S/workplace Rep

Andrew "Ozzy" Osborne, Chair Unite London & Eastern Engineering and Manufacturing RISC (pc)

Andrew Barlow, Member

Andy Erlam, Member

Bunny La Roche

Chris Patton, Member

Christine Davies, Member

Craig Plowman, Union representative

Dave Sherry, Vice Chair, Glasgow Retired Members Branch and Member of Glasgow AAC

Dr Brian Parkin , Leeds Community branch

Ged Dempsey, Former Unite EC member

Graham Bash, Kent Unite Community branch

Ian Allinson, Chair, Fujitsu NW branch

Jean Kincaid, Retired member

John Murphy, Greater Manchester Community Branch

Judy Atkinson, Member of Doctors in Unite

Kate Hodgson, Unite Community Islington Social Media Officer

Kathy Smith , Branch Secretary LE/531 Branch

Kevin Neil, Member

Laurence Humphries, Branch Secretary

Lesley Sebastiani, Unite member

M Murpty

Mark Dunk, Rep XbyX Bromley

Michael Paling, Member full

Michael Thomas, Workplace rep

Paul Clarke, Member

Pete Gillard

Ray Barkley, Branch Secretary Slough SE/6235

Raymond Morell, Unite aerospace and shipbuilding NISC

Richard Lohman, Member

Sean Leahy, Delegate from Coventry "Tom Mann" branch to Coventry TUC

Simon Hales, Member

Simon Hindmarsh, Labour Party Member

Steve McKenzie, Member

Susan Pattinson, Greater Manchester Community Branch

Terry Brough, Branch Secretary

John Pearson, Member

Richard Hoffmann, Member

Dane Cross, Member

Anthony Dooley, NHS Officer Suffolk UNITE Community

Ms Cheryl McLeod, Vice Chair Branch LE/129

Mark Holt

Simon Draper, Chair, Lincolnshire Community Branch

Andy Thompson , Unite Accredited Representative (Lay Companion) Secretary, WM/7007 Change Grow Live (CGL) West Midlands Member NDMC, WM RLPLC, WM RC, WM RISC CYWNfP, WM LBGT and RDMC, Birmingham AAC

Gavin Everall, GC Delegate to Tower Hamlets CLP

Mr John Wood, Branch Secretary

James Joseph Netto, Retired Member

James McGuinness, Branch Officer SC/160/103

Rose Martin, member

James Neill , Member

John Catterall, Vice Chair Greater Manchester Community Branch

Zarria Phillips, Secretary Bristol & Glos Area Unite Community

Paula Bodington

Floyd Major, Senior Shop Steward

Anna Gordon, Chair, NIAB branch

Amanda Allsop , Member

David Isaacson, Member

Murdo Ritchie, Member

Renate Tracy, Member

Duncan Brown, Member, Greater Glasgow Community Branch

Ian Bradley, Construction sector member

Ang. Langley, Unite Community Branch, Bristol.

Margaret Manning, Member

Sandra Smith, Unite/Labour party member

Colin Walker, Senior Rep DXC Technology, Chair EM/DE51, Delegate EM GPMIT RISC

Kathleen Bakewell , Community member

Markus Keaney

Nollaig o muiri, paying member

Mandy McKenna, Member (retired)

Trevor Richards , Member

Nicola Redwood, UNITE Branch Chair SE London Medical

Julie Morrow, Member

Mike Thompson, Workplace rep

Peter Darney, Member

Richard Searlr,

Keith Henderson , Unite LE/107 Branch Secretary

Ian Scott, member

Patricia Melia, Member

Harry Robbins, Diversity Officer, London Unite ITC branch

Chris Neville, Member

Sarah Sanford, Vice-chair Unite LE/1860 Suffolk EMS branch

Robin Starey, member

Jane Howley , Member

Jay Blackwood, Bristol Community Joint LGBT Officer

Dorothy Macedo, Deputy chair South Coast Community

Pat Carmody, Unite SE Services RISC

Ruth Lukom, Member, Unite Community,London East

Stephen Guy, Member


David Rosenberg, member, Islington UNITE community branch

Pascale Mitchell, Chair of Southwark Branch

Moshé Machover, Member


Dr. Ray Campbell, Lecturer

Bridget Dunne, Member of UCC

Gareth Murphy, Branch Sec, Unite Community Camden

Catherine Powell, Community disability officer

Lara Johnson, Unite Community Member - BOBS Branch

Ruth Appleton, Member of Unite Community, Camden.

Santé Refugee Mental Health Access Project,

Lisa Rossetti , Member

Nigel James, Member of Unite Community (Ellesmere Port Branch)

Linda Sayle, Member of Unite Community

Geoff Tennant, Lay member

Carole Vincent, Member of Unite Community East London

Michael Westcombe, Member

Ivan Wels, Unite Community Nottingham

Spencer Jordan, Unite Member

Craig Lewis, Member, Glasgow Community Branch

Wendy Patterson, Community member

Kenny Watson, Member

Diane (Di) Coffey, Member of Unite Community

Jean Jones , Member

Andy Hewett, Member

Miriam Yagud, Member

Jack Wrigley, Member of Unite Community

Patrick Scott, Unite Community Islington

Terry Deans, Member

Andrea Burford, Branch secretary/treasurer

Chris Burford , Community member

Darrell Pointing, Retired Member

Silvana Kelleher, Member

Stephanie De-Sykes, Member

Sarah Wise, Member

Gloria George, Member

Nicky Drury, Member

Silvana Da Ros, Unite community member

Viv Pribram, Member

Alan Bernstein , Branch Secretary

Terence Flanagan, member

Terry Conway, Chair, Islington UNITE Community

Hilary Wainwright , Equalities officer Hackney Unite Community branch

Ian Lowery, Retired Member

Nadia Amara, Member of Unite Community

Mike Tucker, Member of Unite West Midlands region

Ian Parker, CLP Delegate from Manchester Community Branch

Frances Rifkin, Supporter/theatre collaborator

Peter Bloomer, Treasurer: Birmingham Unite Community

Chris Coppock, Community branch member (Berks, Oxon, Bucks)

Rick Grogan, Chair Unite Community Clacton

Barrie Rogerson

Jean Fitzpatrick , Member

Johnny Gaunt, Member

Stephen Rennie, activist member RMA

Sara Bennett, Branch Secretary (National Publishing and Media branch)

Mark Findlay, Member

Jane Kelly, Retired member

Roland Rance, East London Unite Community

Leda Prest, Unite Community Leeds/Equality Officer

Rebecca Rocket , Community member and representative for London and East Region

Mike Kennard, Unite Community

Gillian Kennard, Member of Unite Community

Susan Pashkoff, Chair, East London Unite Community

Romayne Phoenix, Unite the Union member

Caterina Lai, member

Elizabeth N Asante-Twumasi, Member

Joseph Black, Hampstead & Kilburn CLP Delegate

Gareth Lowe, Chair, GPM&IT London and Easter RISC; Chair, National Publishing and Media Branch

Elaine Bolton, Branch Treasurer

Haitham AbdelKhalek , Member

Marc Wadsworth , Member

Yvonne Davies, Member

Sarah Teversham, Unite Community Member

Sophia Mangera , Unite community Member & Labour Party Member

Ayesha Mangera, Member

Nabila Ahmed , Unite member

Sam Louis Gisagara, Equalities Unite the Union-community Greater London Region

Matthew Reeve, Branch Secretary (Sheffield Not For Profit)

V A Smith, Unite community member

Bob Lambert, Branch chair

Piroska Markus, Member

john henry, member

Martin Gleeson, Workplace Representative

Amanda Stannard, Unite Community Essex Branch Secretary

Alan Falconer


Stephanie Grant, Member

Candy Terra, Equalities Officer LE/129

Safiya O'Donnell, Retired Member

Monique Buchli, Treasurer of Community Unite Islington

Helen Loukaides, Member

Tahir Mirza, Member

Larry Hyett, Hastings trades council & chair of Battle branch L/P

Fran Yeldham, Member

William Miles, Social media officer, Unite Community Greenwich, Lewisham & Bexley

Lynne hodge, Workplace rep

Jonathan Grisdale, Branch Chair

Brian Higgins

Raj Gill, Branch Secretary unite community West London

Paul Meaney

James Wright-Fisher, Member

Martin Goodsell, Branch Sec, East London Unite Community

Moshfiqur Noor

Unite the Union, Unite WM6050 Branch Secretary

Unite the Union, Unite WM6050 Branch Secretary

Rebecca Elliott, community member

Mark Randall, Member of London & East Branch: LE/0045M

Matthew Johnson, Senior Steward and RISC delegate

Karl Barton, Branch Secretary EM/DE51

Paul Browning, Unite Community Member WA/B1000C

Sam Karl Weinstein, member

Fred Coford, Secretary. Unite Community Islington

Adam Johannes, Vice-Chair, Cardiff Unite Community Branch

Sandra Holliday, Member

Richard Allday, National Executive Council member for L&E Region, branch secretary LE7055E branch

Alison Harris , Workplace Rep

Paul Martin, Member

David Landau, Delegate and President of Redbridge Trades Union Council

Keith Nathan, Retired member

Steven Powell, Member

Steve Gower, Community member

Richard Kedie, Member

Lesley Bees , Unite Community Member

Mark Trotman, Member

Sheila Jones, Member Cardiff Branch

Daphne Gilbert, Community

Barbara Gordon, Member of Unite in the Community

Leah Levane, Unite Community member

Isobel McMillan

Ruth forward

Anya-Nicoola Darr, member

Mary Sullivan, Member

Donald McDougall, Secretary SW8138

Ghazal, Member

Kate Adams, Unite member

Derrie Clark, Unite Member

Islington Unite Community,

Paula Dauncey, Member

Richard Morgan, Member

Geoff Runciman, Community Member

Clare Dove, Retired member

Clare Dove, Retired member

Marion Fallon, Equalities Officer, Norfolk Unite Community

jonathan elliott, unite community Kent member

Sarah Taylor, Unite Community member. Norwich

Eduardo Gallo, Member of Community Bham Central

Bob Pitt, Unite Community member


Dominic Hebbes, Normal member

Eduardo Gallo, Community Branch Birmingham Central

serena hall, member

Maureen Stewart,

Chris Hicks, Unite Community Member

aileen mitchell, member

Jennifer King, Member

James Donnelly, Member

John Davies, NE/GEO/12 Branch secretary

Elaine Donnellon, member

Maria Carmen Vazquez, Unite Community West London Branch

Jenifer Flintoft (Portsmouth Palestine Solidarity Campaign)

Ryan Smith, Member

Tanbir Siddique, EC delegate to Cheltenham CLP

Richard Green, affiliate member

Mark Trotman, Member

Barry Johnson, Branch Secretary

Eamonn Custance, Member

paul thomas, member

Rebecca Shirazi , Member

kate knight

James Ellis, Member

Janet Cashman , Community Branch delegate to Wallasey CLP

Andy Madeley , Member

Ray McHale, Member of Unite Community

Anne Mitchell, Unite branch 6246

Michael Foulkes , Unite branch SE6246

john c johnston,

Cate Murphy, Chair, Unite 522

David Pugh, Member

Jassen summogum, Support worker

Liz Mercer Labour Member,

Unite the Union, Unite WM6050 Branch Secretary

Dr John Murphy , Member Gt Mcr Community

Pam Wortley , Member

Kevin Davies, Workplace Representative

Geraldine Murray, Branch chair Norfolk Community Br

Hillel Fridman, Branch Secretary Norfolk

Ellen Robottom, Leeds Not-for-Profit member

Lynne Korniak, Retired Member

Jessica Leschnikoff, Unite Community

Claire Wardley, Unite Community Member

Unite the Union , Coventry & Warwickshire Area Activist Cttee

David Plank, Unite Community member

Gabriella Luethin,

Z. Sullivan, None

John Woodhouse, Member, Unie Community Norfolk

Daohne Gilbert, Community

Dr Michael Lloyd, Lay member

Mike Leone

David Prichard-Jones, Member

Jane Kelly, Retired member

David Richard Graham,

Patricia Lomellini,

Bill Haylock, member Unite Community

Mrs. C Lai Cullinane, member

Keith Nathan, Retired member

Pay Sheerin, Member, South London

Gordon Davidson , Community member

Moira Caffell, Retired member

Ian Lowery, Retired member

Ang. Langley, Unite Community Bristol.

Ian Isaac , Member

Rosalind austin, None

Mark Bebbington, member Greater Manchester Unite Community branch

Kevin Harrison , Now retired.

Mark Randall , Member LE/0045M

Paul Green, member of Unite Community

John Lyn Evans, Retired Member

Steve McKenzie , Member

Mr John Davies

Phillip Simpson, member

Elaine Donnellon , member

Gemma Saunders, Member

Ian Venables

David Stepney, Member

John Pearson, Member, Community Section

Joan Kirkup , Member

Mick Brooks, West London Unite Community Branch

Roisin Elder, Unemployed member

Hilary Smith , Community Member

Richard Rogerson, H&S Representative

Robert M. Cassidy, Member

Elizabeth Ramsdrn, Member

Josh Hardman, Community

Heather Nicholls, Unite Member

R Wright, Member, Unite Community

Michelle Harris , Member

Dorothy M. M. Fordyce, Community Member

Martin Tolley, member Suffolk Unite Community

joan norton, member

Alison Hill

sara bannon, member

Jennifer Kidman, Vice Chair East London Unite Community

René Gimpel, Member and Labour Party member (Kensington CLP)

david ingham, community member

Ron Cohen, member

James Bowen, Member of London ITC branch

Mike Barnshaw, Unite Community,

Jean Crocker, Community member

Charlie Campbell

Sara Bennett, Branch Secretary, National Publishing and Media Branch

A. Sullivan, none

Alistair wingate, Member

Jennifer James, member

Daniel Smith , Member

Alison Treacher , Branch Secretary NW389, Delegate to Gorton CLP

Patricia Massie

Mr. Faraz Khan, Community member

Michael Rafferty , Shop Steward

Mike Hope, Community member

Davy King, Member

Sue Fairweather, Member

Katharin Bligh, Member, Camden Community

Diana Carney, Member

Malcolm Richardson , Shop steward

Gary McClements, Member

Emma Jones-Emmett, Member

George Arthur, Member Unite Community Barnsley

June Jones, Member if Huddersfield and Bradford Unite Community

Kim Roper

Marie Schofield, Member

Pauline Wheat-Bowen, Member

Lesley Spillard, retired member

Chris Strachan, Member

Richard Ridings, Not Unite, Equity member

Johnnie Byrne, Retired member (Pass)/ SE Community

Helen Murrell, Member of MPU

Bob Saddington , Community member

Dr Christopher Butler, Member of Bradford Unite Community

Davy King, Community member

Jill Morgan, Community member

Elizabeth Foster, member

Jenny Tierney

Mark Trotman, Member

Halima Roxanne Brewer, worker

All individual signatories are in a personal capacity