Given the media circus surrounding the Labour Party’s adoption yesterday of the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and all 11 of its examples into their official rulebook – and added to the lack of media attention being given to the Tories’ own code of conduct – you would be forgiven for thinking that the Conservative Party had signed up to the full IHRA definition and all of its examples long ago.
However, not only does the Conservative Party only make a brief reference to the IHRA definition of antisemitism within their rulebook, it makes absolutely no reference to any of the examples set out by the IHRA alongside their definition.
Yesterday, Labour’s ruling body, the NEC, voted to adopt the IHRA definition as well as all 11 examples into its rulebook alongside a caveat, similar to the Home Affairs Committee’s own free-speech caveat recommendation in 2016, that ensured free speech with relation to the criticism of Israel.
The NEC vote means that Labour’s official rulebook will now contain the full text of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as well as containing the full text of all 11 examples, word-for-word and in their entirety, as set out by the IHRA.
However, in comparison to Labour’s comprehensive text, in the annex of the Conservative rule book which specifically defines discrimination, the only reference to the IHRA definition of antisemitism is as follows:
Discrimination includes victimising or harassing any other person because of race (including colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship), sex, gender re-assignment, sexual orientation, marital or civil partnership status, disability, age, religion or belief [which should be interpreted as fully adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism], pregnancy and maternity status.
Furthermore, the Conservative Party were forced to hurriedly insert the clause after a Channel Four Fact Check exposed the fact that, whilst many of their MPs were hypocritically criticising Labour for not adopting the definition in full, the Tory Party hadn’t even mentioned it in their rulebook whatsoever.
However, in spite of adding the clause, you will note that the section in the Conservative Party Code of Conduct merely refers to the ‘International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism“:
However, the 11 IHRA examples of antisemitism are not the same thing as the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
The IHRA’s website clearly differentiates between the definition of antisemitism and the 11 examples of antisemitism, stating that “to guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations” [emphasis our own].
The use of the word “may” clearly signifies that the 11 examples are not inherently part of the definition, and given the Conservative Party’s hurried attempt to incorporate just a brief mention of the IHRA definition of antisemitism into their rulebook, they have completely forgotten to implement any of the 11 accompanying examples at all.
The furor surrounding Labour’s reluctance to adopt the code and all of the examples did not rest on them accepting the IHRA definition of antisemitism – this was inserted into their rulebook in 2016 – but on them accepting just one of the IHRA’s 11 examples, relating to whether or not it is antisemitic to refer to Israel’s creation as a racist endeavour.
Given that over 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homes and their land during the 1948 Nakba in order to make way for the Jewish Israeli State, it is little wonder that this one specific clause came in for significant controversy within the Labour Party.
However, following the Labour Party’s adoption yetsreday of both the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as well as all 11 examples, the Conservative Party’s failure to bother doing likewise should surely cause huge embarrassment to the party.