Ealing Council adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism on Tuesday, completing a full set of London boroughs to do so. The vote was unanimous, but not without opposition or dissent.
The West London Revolutionary Communist Group submitted a petition which it says was “signed by hundreds of Ealing residents” and later heckled the proceedings from the public gallery, as film footage taken by Conservative councillor Joy Morrissey shows. The protesters declined to be quiet, so the meeting was suspended for a while. Councillors later returned to the chamber to pass the IHRA motion.
Ealing’s decision brings to close this particular chapter of the ongoing story of challenging antisemitism. Hostility to London boroughs adopting the IHRA definition first came to wide notice nearly two years ago when hecklers disrupted a meeting of Haringey Council at which a Labour-Liberal Democrat cross-party commitment to it was made.
Some of the Haringey protesters were said to be Labour Party members from the pro-Jeremy Corbyn group Momentum, which would later be central to the successful campaign to remove sitting Labour councillors and instal a Labour administration more to its liking. Momentum later distanced itself from the protest.
Labour’s national executive committee eventually adopted the definition in full last September including a list of accompanying examples of antisemitism, following a great deal of debate. However, the party’s broader troubles over antisemitism continue, and objecting to the IHRA definition has continued to be a cause celebre in some circles in the capital. For example, in January of this year students at University College London voted overwhelmingly against adopting it despite the wishes of Jewish students.
Meanwhile, back in Ealing, at least one Labour councillor suspects that not every member of the Labour Group is fully on board with their party’s formal position on this matter, informing On London that “a handful of Labour councillors had bladder issues just before the vote”.
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