Senior faith workers who are members of Unite the union are planning to resign in protest at comments made by its General Secretary Len McCluskey, who criticised the Jewish community for ‘intransigent hostility’ in the wake of Labour’s antisemitism crisis.
Red Roar understands that a number of vicars, priests and imams are planning a mass walk out in an expression of solidarity with their Jewish counterparts. Five senior rabbis resigned from Unite earlier this week over McCluskey’s comments.
He was heavily criticised for hitting out at the Jewish community in an article which also revealed Unite now backs the adoption by the Labour Party of the internationally accepted definition of antisemitism created by the IHRA.
Unite has a faith workers branch which is open to all employees and office holders of any faith organisation.
Two rival unions are now considering setting up faith worker branches to act as a lifeboat for any Unite members who want to leave.
The row sparked by an NEC vote not to adopt the IHRA definition and all its examples has raged on all summer.
That decision is widely expected to be reversed at the next NEC meeting on the 4th September after all the major unions indicated they would vote in favour and Jeremy Corbyn hinted the ground is being prepared for a u-turn.
The Labour leader wants to avoid a public confrontation with his MPs, who are likely to vote in favour of adopting the IHRA definition at the first meeting of the PLP when Parliament returns next month. Louise Ellman – tabled a motion to amend the PLP’s standing orders shortly before Parliament rose for the summer recess. It was seconded by Ruth Smeeth.
The walkout by religious leaders of different faiths underlines the damage that had been done to Labour’s reputation by its initial refusal to accept the IHRA definition in full and the reaction of some of Corbyn’s most trenchant supporters to the prospect of that decision being reversed.
A handful of members, including former Labour MP Jim Sheridan, have been suspended for antiSemitic comments made in the wake of the row.
Thousands of Twitter users took part in a ‘twitterstorm’ on Monday evening calling on the NEC not to endorse the IHRA definition.