Wednesday 13 September 2023

How would the government's Anti-Boycott Bill impact on Brent, Camden and Harrow Councils' right to make ethical decisions. Film and Discussion September 20th

The battle against the Government's Anti-Boycott Bill will be hotting up this Autumn as opposition builds across the trade union, human rights, religious, anti-arms trade, peace and  climate movements.

The bill would prohibit public bodies, including universities and councils from supporting BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) on issues not in line with government foreign policy.

This would directly impact on Brent Council's freedom to make ethical decisions on its investment decisions, including the staff pension fund, and  procurement decisions.

It does not prohibit individuals and other organisations from advocating BDS but could well have a chilling effect, particularly if extended to other issues as the film Boycott shows in the US context. There will be a local showing of Boycott followed by a discussion on Wednesday September 20th.

This is the Trade Union Congress motion that was moved by the National Education Union and seconded by UNISON that was passed yesterday:

The current right-wing Israeli Government, having launched its biggest military incursion in the West Bank in two decades, is announcing new illegal settlements, expelling Palestinians from East Jerusalem and Masafer Yatta, demolishing homes and schools, and failing to prevent armed settlers from rampaging through villages killing and attacking Palestinians, destroying homes and agricultural lands.

The Israeli military has this year killed more than 180 Palestinians.

Congress further notes:

The Government’s Economic Activity of Public Bodies (Overseas Matters) Bill would undermine ethical investment and procurement by public bodies by restricting the consideration of human and workers’ rights, international law and environmental concerns, linked to the behaviour of a foreign state. It damages freedom of speech, local democracy, devolution and pension scheme members’ rights.

The legislation would shield the Israeli government from accountability, alongside companies complicit in its occupation, by legislating to silence those trying to achieve change.

Congress believes:

Any attempt to delegitimise the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions and to suggest that Palestinians should be denied the right to appeal to people of conscience for support, must be rejected.

The ability of public authorities, including public sector pension funds, to divest from companies responsible for violations of human rights should be defended.

Such legislation could have blocked the boycott of goods and companies complicit in Apartheid South Africa.

Congress resolves to:

Reaffirm support for Palestinian rights, including our commitment to “boycott the goods of companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall”.

Support the Right to Boycott coalition
Campaign with affiliates against the Bill.

Mover: NEU
Seconder: UNISON


On Wednesday 20th September Brent and Harrow Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), Camden PSC and Brent Friends of Palestine  are joining together for a free showing of the film Boycott that reveals what happened when similar rules were introduced in the US.

The film will be followed by a discussion led by Ben Jamal, Director of Palestine Solidarity, on the implications for the UK.



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