As part of the crackdown on our right to resist in the recent Queen Speech, the Government brought forward much anticipated “anti-boycott” legislation, which had already been opposed by 46 civil society groups in anticipation of the announcement.
In particular, the Government is seeking to take away from public bodies the right to decide not to purchase or procure from, or invest in companies involved in human rights abuse, abuse of workers’ rights, destruction of our planet, or any other harmful or illegal acts.
This “anti-boycott” Bill is in line with the Conservative Party’s last manifesto, which outlined an intention to introduce legislation to prohibit public bodies from imposing their own direct or indirect boycott or divestment campaigns against foreign countries when the Government does not agree.
The direct nature of this attack on the international “boycott, divestment and sanctions” (BDS) demands of the movements around the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people is obvious, but of course the nature of the attack stretches far wider than that issue alone, effecting climate activists, all international solidarity campaigns, trade unions and many others.
Furthermore, it is not just a question of supporting BDS being under attack, but whether people even have the right to discuss it and make their own decisions.
For these reasons, Labour & Palestine has drafted a model motion for local Labour parties to discuss defending our right to boycott and urging the Labour front bench to oppose this anti-democratic bill, which is copied in full below. Please take this to your next local meeting for discussion.
It is a moral and human right to conscientiously object to having our money used to buy or sell or invest in goods and arms being used by Israel to wage war on the Palestinian people. That is why Labour must oppose the Government’s proposed bill to outlaw the right to boycott and we hope you will be able to pass the motion. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Matt and Hugh, Labour & Palestine.
PS: You can get more information on the issues involved – and campaign on the issue – at https://righttoboycott.org.uk/
This CLP Notes:
- In the Queen’s Speech in May 2022, the Tory government proposed a law to stop public bodies from having the right to boycott or divest from companies unless this was in line Government foreign policy.
- Many companies who are involved in the abuse of human and workers’ rights, the destruction of our planet, and other illegal and harmful acts in breach of international law are not sanctioned by the Government.
- The Tories have indicated that a major reason for proposing this law is specifically to prevent public bodies from deciding not to invest in companies operating in Israel and occupied Palestine – even if they are complicit in the violation of international law and the human rights of the Palestinian people.
- That a wide range of civil society organisations such as trade unions, charities, NGOs, faith, climate justice, human rights, cultural, campaigning, solidarity organisations and others are opposing this proposed law.
This CLP Believes:
- Public bodies and democratic institutions should have the right to spend, invest and trade ethically in line with international law and human rights.
- That Labour must oppose this. From bus boycotts against racial segregation to divestment from fossil fuel companies to arms embargoes against apartheid, boycott, divestment, and sanctions are non-violent campaigns that have been applied throughout history to put economic, cultural, or political pressure on a regime, institution or company to force it to change abusive, discriminatory, or illegal policies.
- That with regards to Palestine, the recent Amnesty report entitled Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians: a cruel system of domination and a crime against humanity shows the need for us to support effective and real action in support of Palestinian rights as outlined by Labour Party Conference motions in 2018, 2019 and 2021.
This CLP Resolves:
- To send this motion to the Labour NEC and relevant front bench members
- To support those in civil society mobilising in support of the right to boycott and divest.