The EHRC Report – critical evaluations / 2

JVL Introduction

Many interesting analyses of the EHRC Report are being produced and we will be reposting a selection.

Doing so does not imply that we endorse all the points made in these analyses but, in our view, all add important insights.

The second reposting is of Chris Nineham’s analysis in the online journal Counterfire

This article was originally published by Counterfire on Thu 29 Oct 2020. Read the original here.

The EHRC report does not uphold claims that Labour under Corbyn was institutionally antisemitic and does not justify the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn, argues Chris Nineham

 

The attack on Jeremy Corbyn is baseless – there is nothing to support it in the EHRC report

 

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission report on complaints of antisemitism in Labour contains no facts to justify Starmer’s outrageous attack on Jeremy Corbyn.

At times it uses strong language in its condemnation of Labour. It found examples of ‘unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination’ for example and ‘inexcusable failures to tackle antisemitism.’

At his press conference, Keir Starmer spoke as if the report was a damning indictment of Labour’s recent record. But there was no discussion of the report’s content. The media focussed entirely on the headline claims and repeatedly pushed Starmer on whether he would discipline Jeremy Corbyn, even though there are no specific allegations against Corbyn in the report.

But the strong language of the headline claims are not representative of the overall content of the report.

First of all the report didn’t uphold claims by the Jewish Labour Movement who lodged the original complaint, that Labour is institutionally antisemitic.

Secondly, despite widespread discussion of a systemic problem in Labour, the report found eighteen ‘borderline cases’ and three cases in which it believes the party is responsible for breaking the law over antisemitism. These are the acts of harassment and discrimination mentioned. One of these involved Ken Livingstone’s media comments about Naz Shah MP and two involved a Rossendale borough councillor called Pat Bromley. One instance in which Pam Bromley broke the law according to the report was by posting on Facebook the following:

‘Looks like fake accusations of AS [antisemitism] to undermine Labour just aren’t working, so let’s have Chris Williamson reinstated’.

Third, most of the report is made up of criticisms of the complaints processes in the Labour Party. Here, a number of things need to be drawn out of the detail. The most obvious is that very much contrary to the tone of the reporting the EHRC found that in its opinion things improved in the Corbyn years in a number of ways.

The report found for example that the quantity of cases being examined went up once Jennie Formby became General Secretary of the Party in 2018, backed by Jeremy Corbyn. There was an increase of 242% in the number of anti-semitism cases looked at by Labour NEC panels between 2018 and 2019. In general, the report says ‘there has been an improvement in the rate of determining cases’.

The report does not claim that the Labour Party failed to act in cases where complaints were upheld, it says only that in cases of successful complaints ‘it has been difficult to draw conclusions on whether the sanctions applied were fair and consistent.’

The report makes a great play of leadership ‘interference’ in the complaints process. In 70 cases examined, it found 23 examples. But the report recognises that some involvement in procedures happens in other types of complaint and it also records that in some of these cases the leader’s office intervened to ensure that suspensions were imposed. At any rate, the report itself notes that the Labour Party stated that Jennie Formby brought involvement of the leader’s office to an end.

Clearly, there were problems with Labour’s complaints procedures, problems that Corbyn inherited from past administrations. But as Corbyn has said in his response, the report shows that ‘(m)y team acted to speed up, not hinder the process’.

Despite this and despite the report’s recognition that there is not institutional antisemitism in the party, it is being presented by Keir Starmer and the media as a condemnation of the Corbyn years. This shouldn’t be surprising.

Antisemitism is a growing problem in society, and the Labour Party is not immune to it. The party is of course absolutely right to take a hard line against it. Jeremy Corbyn has a record of opposing antisemitism and all forms of racism that are second to none. It was in fact precisely his campaigning and principled approach to politics that got him elected as leader of the party in the first place.

The problem of antisemitism in Labour has, however, consistently been inflated by some of those opposed to Corbyn in an attempt to undermine his leadership and to push back against a growing left which among other things held the Palestinian cause dear. This report has delivered the headlines that Keir Starmer and the media needed to continue the job of vilifying the left. It has failed however to substantiate the claims that are repeatedly made to back up that case.

The whole of the left needs to take a stand now to defend Jeremy Corbyn and his record.


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Chris Nineham is a founder member of Stop the War and Counterfire, speaking regularly around the country on behalf of both. He is author of The People Versus Tony Blair and Capitalism and Class Consciousness: the ideas of Georg Lukacs.

 

Links to all JVL statements and other articles on the EHRC report

Comments (7)

  • steve mitchell says:

    Starmers action will ensure there will be an increase in anti Semitism. Those on the Far Right will regard this as proof of the power and influence of the Jewish lobby .

  • Emma says:

    Thankyou for writing this critical evaluation of the EHRC report it is good to read your analysis and read some of the points that have I have not heard highlighted by the mainstream media.It is so important to support Mr.Corbyn who has every right to speak the truth when asked for his opinion just as anyone in a democracy should.

  • I may sound barbaric but perhaps this is not the time for rational discussion or debate! To argue the pros and cons of a situation, the rights and wrongs of it is rather pointless when one`s enemy has just launched a nuclear strike!
    Why point out what Mr Starmer should or should not have done? Mr Starmer does not appear to have the slightest interest in accepted civilized behavior so why try to analyse his procedures in the light of what the rest of us consider civilized.
    Constantly going over what Starmer or Corbyn said, what the EHRC said is not really relevant. Starmer was going to blast Corbyn no matter what! He needed no excuses or reasons!!

  • DJ says:

    Jay Henderson. You are absolutely right. The establishment are determined to destroy Corbyn and the policies he stood for. The flawed report of the EHRC stuffed with lightweight establishment figures was always going to be portrayed as a vindication of the right wing saboteurs and the Israeli Lobby.

  • Doug says:

    Aaaargh the old ‘fake it till you make it’ strategy
    In America they had ‘snake oil’ salesmen
    So its only a matter of time before we run them out of time
    Stay and vote

  • DJ says:

    The half baked report by the misnamed EHRC failed to produce the evidence required to substantiate the claim that the Labour Party has been overrun by antisemitism. So Starmer’s claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s statement amounts to “denial” is false. The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn was clearly preplanned. When Starmer talks about the “Jewish community” or”Jewish stakeholders”he is being highly selective. He is consciously choosing to side with the BOD, JLM, LFI and CAA, all of which are part of the Israeli lobby in the UK. These organisations want to see pro Palestinians and critics of Israel expelled from the Labour Party. This includes Jewish members. In fact the Israeli lobby actually hate Jewish critics of Israeli. This makes Stamer’s claim to make the Labour Party a safe place for the “Jewish community” hollow. You only have to look at the number of Jewish members targeted by this witch hunt.

  • JRS says:

    The legal argument on the basis of which the Labour Party is held vicariously liable for Livingstone’s defence of Naz Shah and the statements of a councillor in Rossendale is sketchy in the extreme. The report gives the impression that the EHRC strove mightily to find Labour to be institutionally antisemitic but couldn’t manage it. The best that could be done was to tie Livingstone and the councillor in as “agents”. Would this stand up to detailed forensic examination? I wonder.

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