The appointment (on 25 April) of Laura Murray to Head of Complaints for the Labour Party has real problems, whatever merits she may have.
Murray has been defended by Jon Lansman, chair of Momentum: “I can’t think of anyone better for this role. She’s developed wide knowledge about it [antisemitism], deeply wants to root it out, has engaged and worked with Jewish communities”.
Jeremy Newmark, former chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, has described her as “responsible and fair”, and defended her against charges that, intervening from a position in the Leader’s Office, she pressed complaints staff to investigate but not suspend a Labour member who was subsequently arrested by police over antisemitic social media posts.
We remain concerned with comments Murray has made about ourselves which cast doubt on her propensity for dispassionate judgement and on whether she can really be said to have developed a view on antisemitism that fits with Lansman’s description.
In a lengthy blog post in December 2016, Murray wrote about us as “ a group with such extreme Trotskyist politics that they are almost a caricature of themselves ... Subtle support for imperialist wars, uncritical support for Israel and fanatical support for the European Union are amongst their policies”.
We’ve been outside the Israeli Embassy many times criticising and protesting against Israeli government actions, and we’ve never seen Murray there. Such things as misinterpreting our opposition to destruction of Israel as “uncritical support” are the usual ploy of left antisemites.
Also, however much Murray may have privately improved, the Labour Party today needs to signal to the Jewish community and others that its complaints administration is visibly independent from the “Leader’s Office”, which is Stalinist-dominated.
The continued cycling into key jobs in the Labour “machine” of people from the same families, schools, and political networks is no way to do that.