THE Labour Party and GMB union will soon sit in judgement on an Edinburgh activist who has caused both his party and trade union a real problem over an issue they both wish would go away.

For Pete Gregson’s stance against what he calls racist Israeli Zionism has seen him suspended from the party and his position as the only GMB shop steward in the 24,000-strong workforce of NHS Lothian.

Accused of anti-Semitism by defying Labour and the GMB over their adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition, it would have been easy for Gregson to keep silent.

Instead, the man who has made the rights of whistleblowers his long-term concern raised the stakes by launching a petition which attracted more than 800 supporters.

It states: “We Labour Party members declare Israel to be a racist endeavour. We are not anti-Jewish.

“We challenge our National Executive Committee to expel us from the party if you believe that, according to the IHRA definition you adopted on September 4, we are anti-Semitic. If you will not, we expect you to return Labour to its previous position, which allowed freedom of speech on Israel.”

There are all sorts of ancillary issues in this case, such as who exactly within the GMB and Labour was eager to bring sanctions against Gregson and was there collusion? But the key point may turn out to be simple – can Labour and GMB legally silence a member who is exercising his freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights?

Gregson, who really does have a Jewish best friend, wants to be free to criticise the state of Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. For example, the so-called nation-state law passed by the Knesset in July sates: “The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

That immediately implies that non-Jews such as the Palestinians and Druze are second-class citizens. It is one of many activities by the Israeli state which Gregson has criticised.

The group Labour Against the Witch-hunt has backed him but senior GMB figures told The National that they are only doing to anti-Semitism what they already do to Islamophobia – confronting it to end it.

Both Labour and the GMB argue that Gregson has broken their rules. Fair enough, but if Gregson can prove those rules were adopted illegally and wins his case, there will be turmoil for Labour in particular. He has a QC standing by and will go to court if necessary.

Gregson’s case is too big an issue to be ignored by the media, not least because councils, police forces and trades unions have all adopted the IHRA definition – were they legally correct to do so?

Rest assured that The National will report on developments.