Recorder letters: IHRA, Corbyn the scapegoat, Mike Gapes MP, sunflower stolen, tiny flats and Barkingside FC

PUBLISHED: 12:00 09 September 2018

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party adopted the full IHRA definition of antisemitism but added a caveat. Picture: PA IMAGES

Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party adopted the full IHRA definition of antisemitism but added a caveat. Picture: PA IMAGES

PA Wire/PA Images

Letters, contributions and comments sent in from Recorder readers this week.

Why change of mind over IHRA?

Cllr Howard Berlin & Cllr Ruth Clark (Fairlop Conservatives) write:

The UK government was one of the first countries to accept the full working definition of IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance), which includes eleven examples of anti-Semitism, when it was proposed in 2016.

This internationally recognised definition has been adopted by organisations and groups around the country, including the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, and 130 local authorities.

On January 18 2018 at full council Redbridge Council adopted the full working definition of anti-Semitism. All councillors, including Labour Councillor Barbara White, voted for the motion.

But in last week’s Ilford Recorder the former Redbridge councillor Barbara White wrote that it is “wrong to adopt the full IHRA definition” and, shockingly, berated one of her own MPs, Mike Gapes for defending the eleven examples of anti-Semitism set out by IHRA.

We ask Barbara White: what happened between January 2018 and August 2018 to make you change your mind? Particularly, after a summer in which we have seen instance after instance of anti-Jewish racism been brought to light?

Barbara also wildly accuses the Conservative Party of not accepting the eleven examples of anti-Semitism. This is completely false.

The Conservative Party has adopted the full working definition of anti-Semitism set out by IHRA, which by definition includes all eleven working examples.

Barbara says that the proper definition of anti-Semitism will “silence supporters of justice and human rights for Palestinians”. This is offensive nonsense. IHRA already makes clear in its definition that “criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

However, so many in the Labour party seem unable to express a political viewpoint without adopting racist, anti-Jewish language and tropes. Ironically, this is why the IHRA definition and its examples, are so important.

Since last week the Labour Party National Executive Council (NEC) have adopted the full working definition of anti-Semitism as set out by IHRA. However, they have added a caveat when debating the Middle East.

This decision is an insult to Jewish people because Labour does not know better than Jewish people when it comes to anti-Semitism.

The Labour NEC would have done well to note that the UK delegation to the IHRA’s group of experts warned last month that any attempt to modify the IHRA definition would mean that this was no longer what they had approved.

IHRA allows criticism of Israel government and its policies. There is no need for the caveat to be added and we oppose it.

Corbyn being scape-goated

Madeleine Channer, Lyn Road, Ilford, writes:

I am horrified on reading that some MPs have joined the right wing media and scape-goated Jeremy Corbyn.

I have attended several meetings where Jeremy Corbyn has spoken. There is not a racist bone in his body. He has devoted his life to working for peace and justice.

The former Catholic priest Bruce Kent whose church in North Islington is in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency, wrote in the Evening Standard (August 1) of Mr Corbyn’s outstanding care for refugees, the homeless and those in any kind of trouble and in the 15 years he had known him, he had never heard him utter anything remotely antisemetic.

Please stop throwing mud at this highly principled man of great integrity.

It’s good MP Mike did not resign

Randhir Singh Bains, Shere Road, Gants Hill, writes:

It is good that Mike Gapes did not resign over the antisemitism row in the Labour Party (Recorder, August 30). Notwithstanding some MPs’ claims, Britain’s main political parties, in my views, are neither anti-Jewish nor anti-Muslim.

Britain already has laws against religious discrimination. If some MPs are antisemitic or anti-Muslim, then party leaders should deal with them in accordance with the existing laws.

Why should they rush to adopt the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism or the EU’s definition of Islamophobia?

Islamophobia and antisemitism are political ideologies, not practical mechanisms to fight discrimination. They refer to the intense hatred of, or prejudice against, Jews or Muslims, especially as a political force. In other words, they deal with much more than mere anti-Muslim or anti-Jewish prejudice.

Theft of sunflower is such a waste

Marion Carver, Grantham Road, Manor Park, writes:

On August 16, you published my photo of our hardy, lovely sunflower growing amongst all the rubbish on Ilford Hill. Over the next few days five or more flowers bloomed and it was doing really well. We all loved it.

But of course, some selfish cretin has dug it up and stolen it! So instead of all the people passing by being cheered up by it, one greedy individual wanted it for themselves.

The can’t even replant it, what a dreadful waste.

No need to house people in tiny flats

Chris Roper, Chadwell Heath, Romford, writes:

Having seen the article in the Ilford Recorder on the Newbury House flats, I want to make a quick point.

It may be that Redbridge Council has, in terms of planning permission, no say in stopping a development such as Newbury House, but it isn’t compelled to put people in there.

In fact, there would be no point in developing it in its current form if the council weren’t going to make use of it. So, maybe, they have more control than they appreciate?

Barkingside FC memorabilia

Jimmy Flanagan, Kingsland Road, Plaistow, writes:

I would like to ask readers for memorabilia, etc, to help Barkingside FC celebrate their 120th anniversary.

The club would like to borrow or if possible keep any old photos, programmes etc, so that they can help share the 120th anniversary, with present day supporters.

Please contact me, chairman, Jimmy Flanagan on 07956 894194, or email

Likewise any old players that would like to attend a game at Cricklefield please contact me for complimentary tickets.

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