Scottish Council of Jewish Communites
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities

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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities
Representing, connecting, and supporting Jewish people in Scotland

Former Labour Party Leader apologises for
"the stain of antisemitism
"

13 April 2018
 

The former Leader of Scottish Labour, Kezia Dugdale MSP, has written to SCoJeC to express her "sincere and deep disappointment at the reality that these abhorrent views continue to exist in society and in my party". She says she is "dismayed by the failures of the party's leadership to condemn them forcefully enough publicly and root out those who hold those views from our movement", and calls on the party "to make amends and repair the damage with the Jewish community".

The full text of her message to SCoJeC Director Ephraim Borowski reads:

Dear Ephraim,

Over recent weeks the issue of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party has featured heavily in the news.

The revelations of anti-Semitism from what appears to be a small minority of Labour Party members is not in my experience reflective of the wider movement. That said, I wanted to express my own sincere and deep disappointment at the reality that these abhorrent views continue to exist in society and in my party – a party whose primary mission has always been to promote equality, tolerance, respect. A party that believes diversity is a strength and something to be celebrated. So I'm saddened to see these views held and articulated by members of the Labour Party and further dismayed by the failures of the party's leadership to condemn them forcefully enough publicly and root out those who hold those views from our movement.

Let me be clear, Anti-Semitism has no place in our party or society, and it must be stamped out, wherever it arises. As such the vast majority of Labour Party member are struggling with the hurt, and shame, of the stain of anti-Semitism from this minority and it remains quite clear to me that the Labour Party has much more to do tackle anti-Semitism within the party and then a duty to turn and take it on, in the name of its founding values, in wider society.

During my time as the Leader of the Scottish Labour Party I valued our relationship and gained a greater knowledge and understanding of the issues facing Scotland's proud Jewish community. You were disappointed at my party's standing then, I can't imagine how you feel now.

I'm acutely aware that the Labour Party have a huge task ahead of us to make amends and repair the damage with the Jewish community.

I am pleased that some Scottish Labour party braches have invited the Jewish Labour Movement to deliver training on anti-Semitism for local members and believe this should be replicated across the country.

It is our responsibility to deal with the issues in our party here and now and I join with those who are determined not to shirk that responsibility.

I would welcome any advice you might be able to provide on this matter, and particularly, if there are any Edinburgh based contacts that I should seek to meet and talk with over the coming weeks.

Please let me also express, in the simplest terms, the sincerest of apologies on behalf of the Labour Party to the extent that I can.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Kind regards, Kezia

Welcoming her message, SCoJeC DIrector Ephraim Borowski wrote:

This personal message from Kezia Dugdale is a remarkable intervention by the former leader of Scottish Labour, acknowledging the hurt that recent events within the UK Party have caused to members of the Jewish Community. It is palpably candid and sincere, and a very welcome contrast with the denial and abuse with which some others have responded to the unprecedented demonstration declaring that "Enough is Enough".

In that spirit we also welcome the overtures from the Eastwood and other Scottish Labour groups, and stand ready to work with all political parties to tackle the antisemitism that is all too prevalent in society today.

The Eastwood Constituency Labour Party issued an open letter signed by the party leaders on East Renfrewshire Council, expressing its "deep sense of shame" that:

leaders of the Jewish faith are placed in a position that they feel they have to issue an open letter dealing the hurt our party has caused. ... We do not believe that antisemitism exists only in pockets, nor that it is a matter of a few bad apples, within the party. We believe that it is present to an unacceptable extent in the party at all levels. We are sorry for this.

SCoJeC has also been contacted by the Labour leadership in Glasgow City Council, and by the MP for Eastwood, Paul Masterton, seeking a briefing about recent antisemitic incidents in Scotland since our two Being Jewish in Scotland reports in 2012 and 2015.

 

   
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