Labour’s antisemitism data: a genuine problem – and media exaggeration

cartoon: Skwawkbox

JVL Introduction

We had commissioned a commentary on the information contained in Jennie Formby’s release of data on antisemitism in the Labour Party when this article appeared.

So hats off to Skwawkbox — and no need to re-invent the wheel!

Labour’s antisemitism data release reveals genuine problem – and media exaggeration

A single case of antisemitism in the Labour Party is too many – but figures released by the party show the ‘Labour antisemitism problem’ has been vastly exaggerated – and represents only around 0.1% of its 500,000+ membership


On Monday night, the Labour Party released statistical data on allegations of antisemitism in the party. It demonstrates the scale of Labour’s efforts to combat antisemitism in the party – and the scale of the exaggeration of the issue by the so-called ‘mainstream media’.

Labour Antisemitism Stats from April 2018

As Jennie Formby told MPs on Monday night, the party under previous general secretary Iain McNicol was not separately classifying complaints of antisemitism. Since April 2018 – just ten days after Formby was appointed to succeed McNicol – the party has kept a specific record.

The total number of complaints in the period since then represents about 0.2% of Labour’s colossal membership:

• 1,106 complaints lodged
• 433 relate to non-Labour members
• 96 members suspended
• 146 written warning
211 served notice of investigation
• 220 had insufficient evidence

Of course, a single case is too many, but even if all complaints had been well founded, they would represent a tiny proportion of the membership – and far below levels of antisemitism in the general population.

But not all complaints were justified. Forty percent of complaints did not relate to Labour members, while another twenty percent amounted to no case to answer.

Sixty percent, therefore, of the proportionally tiny but hugely-publicised ‘Labour antisemitism problem’ either had nothing to do with Labour or was a false or flimsy accusation.

Labour Antisemitism cases dealt with by NEC Disputes Panel

• 44 quit the Labour party before their hearing
• 42 were referred for assessment by the NCC (see below)
• 16 were given a formal warning
• 6 were referred for further investigation
• 25 served a reminder of conduct
• 6 exonerated

Antisemitism cases referred to highest panel (NCC)

Of the cases referred to the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), Labour’s highest disciplinary body, after the completion of the investigation into allegations against them:

• 16 received a formal warning from the NEC
• 6 were sanctioned short of expulsion
• 12 have been expelled
• 6 were referred back for further investigation
• 24 are still awaiting the completion of the NCC process


Of 1,106 complaints received over the ten months or so since April last year, 961 have been resolved – a rate of about eighteen per week – and 145 remain outstanding, of which 115 have been formally suspended. Twenty-four of those cases have been processed as far as the NCC – and should be dealt with shortly as Labour recently increased the number of NCC members significantly.

Quite rightly, Ms Formby and other staff – and even the party leadership – have no influence over the time the quasi-judicial NCC considers necessary to assess the cases before it.

Eighteen cases resolved per week is a good rate of progress to deal with cases properly.

As Jennie Formby told MPs that only the most recent complaints were still outstanding, the 90 or so cases still pending at a level she can affect will be those most recently received.

Of the cases not dismissed immediately, for lack of evidence or because those involved were not Labour members, approximately:

• one third were cleared
• one third received a formal warning
• a fifth were suspended (some may also appear in other categories)
• one in fourteen quit the party before completion of the disciplinary process
• six out of seven cases have been resolved and only the most recent are pending

(Figures shown do not add up to exactly 100% because of rounding)

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The most obvious conclusions to draw from the figures are that:

99.9% of Labour members have never been accused of antisemitism
– a huge proportion of claims about ‘Labour’ behaviour doesn’t involve Labour members at all
– around a third of complaints that do involve Labour members are so unfounded that they didn’t stand up to the first level of scrutiny
– Labour’s administration under Jennie Formby has made huge inroads into the issue
– most of the old cases that took a long time to deal with were accumulated on former general secretary Iain McNicol’s watch

None of these obvious conclusions are likely to receive a mention in the so-called ‘mainstream media’.

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Comments (3)

  • dave says:

    We don’t know what criteria are being applied. I hope a clear line is being drawn on criticism of Israel.

    I wish that Labour people being interviewed on the media would reference the figures – instead they keep talking up the scale of the issue as they are petrified of being seen to deny a problem.

    As for those expelled I doubt there are any who are known to local branches and this is probably social media activity. I would like to see new Labour members agree to a code of conduct and we need to be more active in contacting people who never come to meetings. Otherwise there will be cranks.

  • Rick Hayward says:

    “I hope a clear line is being drawn on criticism of Israel”

    Precisely. The NEC position has always been one from the back foot – apologetic rather than realistic and combative against slander.

    Jenny Formby has done a good job – up to a point. But she still tries to curry favour by pretending that part of the problem is not ‘a conspiracy’. Anyone who has done their basic research knows that it is.

    That is why I’ve argued that the numbers game is not sufficient – they will always be contested. We need transparency over the nature of the allegations in order to exclude right-wing name calling for political ends, encouraged by a dishonest media.

    “A single case of antisemitism in the Labour Party is too many”

    Of course it is. One murder is too many, One child molested is one too many. One knife crime is one too many.

    But when you’ve said that, you’ve not really said or done much other than ‘I believe in motherhood and sliced bread’.

    … and the fact is that the aberration of real anti-semitism in the Labour Party is *less* than elsewhere. Whereas the incidence of false allegations is notably high.

    Contrary to the propaganda from the nefarious ‘Jewish Chronicle’, the Jewish community hasn’t been subjected to a massive increase in persecution or continued discrimination. Particularly not within the Labour Party, despite the right trying to drive a wedge.

    So – yes, do let’s see the substance of allegations – and then come down firmly on those that are *actually* anti-semitic, rather than those that contradict tropes about the essential nature of Israel.

  • Mark Cunningham says:

    I am concerned that almost every day John Humphreys has a fresh Labour MP to interview ( at great length ) who claims that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism. Today’s MP said that criticism of Israel or capitalism is effectively anti-Semitic! I totally agree that it is wrong to blame Jewish people for Israeli Government policy but there is no doubt that the anti-Semitism movement is now being used both to shut down support for the Palestinian people and also to attack Jeremy Corbin.

Comments are now closed.