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University of Edinburgh rector Ann Henderson criticised by Edinburgh Labour Students amidst anti-Semitism saga

Henderson is running in the ongoing Labour NEC elections

University of Edinburgh rector Ann Henderson has come under fire from the university’s student Labour society following supposed misconduct in the lead up to the upcoming elections for the Labour Party's governing body, the National Executive Committee or NEC.

Edinburgh Labour Students (ELS) yesterday released a statement in which they criticised Henderson’s role within the recent Peter Willsman anti-Semitism scandal.

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Henderson became only the second ever female rector in February

Willsman had been running for a seat on the NEC on behalf of grassroots group Momentum, alongside Henderson, but was removed following comments in which he suggested that "Trump fanatics" in the Jewish community were behind the recent accusations of anti-Semitism aimed at the party. These were deemed "deeply insensitive and inappropriate" by Momentum. Despite this, Henderson has continued to support Willsman.

ELS also criticised Henderson’s following of controversial feminist campaigners ‘Woman’s Place UK’ on Twitter. Whilst acknowledging that following a page does not necessarily signify agreement, the society are unhappy with Henderson’s lack of response to concerns about the issue raised by Lily Madigan, Women’s Officer for Rochester and Strood CLP.

Here is our statement expressing our disappointment with the conduct of our University Rector and candidate for the National Executive Committee (NEC), Ann Henderson. We have reached out to Ann for a comment.

Posted by Edinburgh Labour Students on Monday, August 6, 2018

Furthermore, ELS are unhappy with Henderson’s lack of response to the Jewish Labour Movement when asked whether she would support the Labour Party adopting the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism into its rulebook.

Whilst the Labour Party insists it has replicated the international definition word-for-word, controversy has arisen however over the omission of some "contemporary examples of anti-Semitism", with much of the debate surrounding a line in the IHRA definition that suggests that to refer to the state of Israel as racist is anti-Semitic. ELS have come out in support of the adoption of the IHRA definition.

Although the group previously supported Henderson’s campaign to become university rector, as well as inviting her to speak at an event regarding Women in Trade Unions, they have now made clear that without a change in her position they will no longer support her holding a position within Labour or within the university.