Muslim Council shows BoD how to make reasonable requests of Labour leadership candidates

Muslim_Council_of_Britain_logo and Board of Deputies logo
Ed Sykes

Labour leadership candidates have received a request to support ten pledges from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) – “the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body”. And considering the controversy that similar pledges from the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) have sparked in recent days, the BoD could learn a lot from the MCB about how to make reasonable, respectful, and inclusive requests.

 

At the time of publication, the MCB has already thanked Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Jess Phillips for agreeing to these pledges.

The big difference between the MCB and BoD pledges

Jewish left-wingers have expressed serious concerns about the BoD pledges, which Labour leadership candidates have all backed. As The Canary reported on 14 January, there are worries in particular that the BoD is asking Labour to “disregard the views of Jews with whom [the leaders of the BoD] disagree”. Jewish critics have also accused the BoD of seeking to undermine the party’s independence.

The BoD says, for example, that:

Labour must engage with the Jewish community via its main representative groups, and not through fringe organisations and individuals.

This is in stark contrast to the MCB, which asks Labour to:

Commit to proactively engage with a broad and representative spectrum of British Muslim communities to ensure a plurality of views are being considered.

The difference between the two groups’ approaches is clear. While the former seeks to exclude voices it disapproves of, the latter actively encourages inclusivity.

Another difference is that the BoD appeared to target only Labour (a committed anti-racist party), without demanding the backing of Conservative leader Boris Johnson or any other party leader. The MCB, meanwhile, called on “all party leaders” to adopt its pledges.

The BoD’s stance is particularly concerning considering that Johnson – who’s very popular among fascists – has a longstanding record of insulting womenethnic minority groupsreligious minority groups, the LGBTQIA+ community, and working-class people. He and his party, meanwhile, have long faced allegations of antisemitism, with ties to antisemitic, far-right parties in Europe being a particular cause for concern. They are also experiencing an Islamophobia crisis which seems to be out of control. Statistics have previously shown, for example, that 56% of Conservative Party members believe “Islam is a threat to the British way of life”.

BoD pledges sparking controversy

On 13 January, a Labour branch passed a motion criticising the BoD pledges:

Alex Holmes, vice-chair of the Ilford South branch, claimed there were antisemitic comments at this local meeting. Ilford South MP Sam Tarry responded by tweeting:

He said “there are conflicting accounts” about what attendees had said. But he added that there would be “zero tolerance” if Labour upheld any of the allegations.

Keep Labour independent

Labour must listen to all communities across the UK, while also retaining its political independence. The MCB pledges respect that. The BoD pledges don’t. That’s why the latter have caused so much anger among party members. The BoD should take a leaf out of the MCB’s book.

Featured image via MCB and BoardofDeputiesPR, with additional content via Press Association

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  • Show Comments
    1. No this is utterly pathetic from the establishment MCB.

      It’s no surprise that ‘At the time of publication, the MCB has already thanked Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry, Keir Starmer and Jess Phillips for agreeing to these pledges.’

      If Thornberry, Starmer and Phillips agree to them they are not worth the paper they are written on.

      All this does is legitimise the racist idea that ‘faith groups’ have one set of politics. Socialists oppose this concessionalisation of politics.

      The Board of Deputies wasn’t advancing the interests of Jews but Israel. The MCB by this utterly stupid move has legitimised the BOD demands.

      And on Palestine they are pitifully weak. Recognising a state that doesn’t exist. Nothing about the occupation, Zionism as a racist, settler colonial movement.

    2. Those on the Labour left must contact all the leadership candidates and inform them that they will not get their vote if they support the ten pledges of the BoD. The BoD is a conservative think tank, and if these pledges are adopted by the Labour Party Momentum and others on the left should leave the Labour party and form their own. Either that or join the Greens.

    3. It’s proselytising pure and simple from both religious factions. What in ‘god’s name’ are political parties, or in this case, candidates for the new Labour leadership doing in endorsing rules and regulations from a religious group other than out of fear and trepidation those faiths will ‘come after them’ just as Mr Corbyn has been systematically ‘got at’ and is now successfully despatched? Said candidates, for the sake of universality and togetherness, should be advised they should request similar lists of ‘rulings’ from all the other faiths including from Jediists, Church of Euthanasia, Scientology, Banana Cult and the John Frum religion. After all ‘fair’s fair’.

    4. It is uplifting to read the respectful and inclusive suggestions from the MCB. The ten policies from the BoD were demands and set out to exclude certain parties. Also the MCB sent the requests to all the political parties not just Labour like the BoD. In my opinion the BoD’s actions were nothing more than another attack on Labour rather than fighting anti-Semitism. I find it very disconcerting that the focus in the UK is very much on fighting just anti-Semitism rather than all racism, especially as Islamophobia is running rampant since the Breferendum in 2016.

      1. I guess that BoD directed their attention to Labour because that is where antisemitism has flourished under Corbyn’s “leadership”. Comments from his supporters can be found in Hansard, recording the 2018 debate, e.g.:
        “#JC4PM Deselect Ruth Smeeth ASAP. Poke the pig—get all Zionist child killer scum out of Labour.”
        “First job for Jeremy Corbyn tomorrow—expel the Zionist BICOM smear hag bitch Ruth Smeeth from the Party.”
        The fact that Corbyn allied himself with his friends in Hamas and Hezbollah, committed to the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews wherever they may be found, obviously doesn’t help.

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