The EHRC Report – critical evaluations / 5

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 fifth reposting is from the Morning Star, describing labour movement reactions to Jeremy Corbyn’s suspension.

It accompanied its report with a statement from David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists’ Group, also included below

This article was originally published by Morning Star on Sat 31 Oct 2020. Read the original here.

Corbyn's suspension is an ‘attack on the left’ that undermines Labour's response to anti-semitism

 

The former Labour leader says he will strongly ‘contest the political intervention to suspend me’ and to ‘continue to support a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of racism’

 

 

THE shocking suspension of Jeremy Corbyn by Labour’s leadership is a “massive attack on the left” that undermines the party’s response to anti-semitism, socialists warned today.

Left-wing voices rallied around the former Labour leader with the party’s Socialist Campaign Group vowing to fight tirelessly for his reinstatement.

Mr Corbyn was suspended pending investigation of his comments after the release of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report into allegations of anti-semitism in the party.

The report concluded that the party was responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” relating to the handling of complaints of anti-semitism and comments made by Labour members and politicians.

Responding to the report, Mr Corbyn said that “anyone claiming there is no anti-semitism in the Labour Party is wrong,” but that the “scale of the problem was overstated for political reasons by our opponents.”

Within hours of the report’s release today, Labour announced that the former leader had been suspended “in light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently.”

Mr Corbyn said he would “strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me” and said he would “continue to support a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”

His suspension sparked outcry among Jewish socialists, the Labour left and other left-wing campaigners.

Andrew Scattergood, co-chair of pro-Corbyn Labour organisation Momentum, said: “The EHRC report demands serious consideration but the suspension of [Jeremy Corbyn] risks politicising and undermining Labour’s response to anti-semitism.

“It is a massive attack on the left by the new leadership and it should be immediately lifted in the interests of party unity.”

The Socialist Campaign Group – which includes Labour MPs John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon, Ian Lavery and Rebecca Long Bailey – said it “firmly opposed” the suspension. “We will work tirelessly for his reinstatement,” it said.

The EHRC investigation was launched in May 2019 after formal complaints by the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Jewish Labour Movement.

The report highlighted that discrimination was not isolated to the Labour Party but was shared across various political parties.

Labour has promised to implement all of its recommendations.

The commission said it had identified three breaches of the Equalities Act relating to political interference in anti-semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-semitism complaints, and harassment.

The charge of “unlawful harassment” came after comments made by former London mayor Ken Livingstone and councillor Pam Bromley.

The report also found “serious failings” in the process of handling anti-semitism complaints and criticised the party for failing to carry out recommendations in previous reports into the issue.

The EHRC report blamed these failings on the Labour leadership, despite a party report leaked earlier this year which suggested that complaints of anti-semitism were deliberately mishandled to sabotage Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

The leaked 850-page party report included WhatsApp messages from senior Labour officials and people within the legal and governance unit who were opposed to Corbyn’s leadership.

Writing in the Guardian earlier this week, Mr Corbyn’s former head of staff Karrie Murphy said the former leader had ordered that the 2016 Chakrabarti Inquiry’s recommendations to tackle anti-semitism and racism within Labour be carried out.

But Ms Murphy wrote that they were not implemented — “despite assurances from the party HQ and the then general secretary Iain McNicol.”

The complaints procedure was overhauled in 2018 when Mr McNicol, a vocal anti-Corbyn figure, was replaced by Jennie Formby.

Commenting on the EHRC’s report today, Ms Formby said that as a result of the changes made, “Labour’s previously unfit processes were transformed, becoming more rapid, robust and more independent than any other political party.”

Jewish members of the Labour Party also rallied behind Mr Corbyn. David Rosenberg, a socialist historian and Jewish member of Islington North CLP, said Mr Corbyn was a “100 per cent solid ally in the fight against anti-semitism and fascism.”

Mr Rosenberg described the report as “thin, repetitive and legalistic,” adding that it “rests on two cases of members who were ultimately expelled under Corbyn’s leadership.

“While Labour tears itself apart on these matters, anti-semitism and racism generally in British society are increasing under the auspices of the party of the hostile environment — which the EHRC has shown no desire to investigate.”

Jewish Voice for Labour’s (JVL) Mike Cushman said the report gave no basis for the suspension of Mr Corbyn and called for it to be rescinded immediately.

JVL added that the report did not consider “hurtful” allegations of anti-semitism against Jewish Labour members and “the abuse they suffered, often by non-Jews.”

“The report does not identify anti-semitic actions by Corbyn and the action against him is vindictive,” Mr Cushman said.

“The report identifies no instance of Jewish members being discriminated against and does not uphold the repeated claims by enemies of the party of ‘institutional anti-semitism’.”

“JVL hopes the report will lead to what we have called for many years: a transparent complaints procedure fair to all involved and trusted by all parties. This must be run by the party and not outsourced.”

Dave Ward, general secretary of Labour-affiliated postal workers’ union CWU, said Mr Starmer’s political decision to suspend “a lifelong anti-racist campaigner flies in the face of the report.”

“It’s fundamentally wrong and needs to change,” he said.

Stop the War Coalition, of which Mr Corbyn is a founding member, said in a statement: “We totally reject any accusations of anti-semitism against him, or that the Labour Party was anti-semitic under his leadership.

“Despite the headlines and spin put on the EHRC report, we note that the contents overall would not support any such claim.”

The party is now legally obliged to draft an action plan by December 10 to tackle the unlawful behaviour identified in the report.

Leader Sir Keir Starmer told reporters: “Under my leadership, zero-tolerance of anti-semitism will mean precisely that. If you’re anti-semitic, you should be nowhere near this party. And we’ll make sure you’re not.

“And if after all the pain, all the grief and all the evidence in this report there are still those who think there’s no problem with anti-semitism in the Labour Party — that it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack — then, frankly, you are part of the problem too. And you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.”

“This was a day for our party to move forward as one to defeat the evil of antisemitism,” said Unite leader Len McCluskey.

“However, the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn has threatened that opportunity.

“The suspension appears to fly in the face of one of the important recommendations made by the EHRC – and which Keir himself said he would implement in full and immediately – which is to remove the leader’s office from party investigations.

“But it is also an act of grave injustice which, if not reversed, will create chaos within the party and in doing so compromise Labour’s chances of a general election victory. A split party will be doomed to defeat.”

A solidarity rally with Jeremy Corbyn is being organised in Manchester this weekend, with organisers calling on supporters to gather safely in Piccadilly Gardens from 1pm.

 


Statement as a Jewish member of the Labour Party

by David Rosenberg

AS A Jewish member of Islington North CLP I know my MP, Jeremy Corbyn as a 100 per cent solid ally in the fight against anti-semitism and fascism

It is shameful that on the day when the party should be stepping up its challenge to rising racism that it has suspended the MP who has done more than any other to fight for a just and multicultural society where all minorities feel valued.

I support EHRC’s recommendations to improve procedures, education and training on anti-semitic incidents, to speed up and make transparent the handling of cases, to fully implement [former shadow attorney general Shami] Chakrabarti’s proposals, and rebuild work with Jewish stakeholders.

But who caused the delays, especially between 2015-18? Who sabotaged the implementation of the Chakrabarti Report? Not Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership team.

They were being sabotaged by the bureaucracy running the party’s Law and Governance Unit who were fighting a factional war against his leadership.

The content of the report is thin, repetitive and legalistic and rests on two cases of members who were ultimately expelled under Corbyn’s leadership.

It does not define “anti-semitism” or “Jewish stakeholders”. Many Jewish Labour Party members who disagree with the Jewish Labour Movement’s right-wing politics, and are not Zionists, are surely stakeholders too.

But we have not been consulted by the “new leadership” despite several requests to meet with them.

While Labour tears itself apart on these matters, anti-semitism and racism generally in British society are increasing under the auspices of the party of the hostile environment, that the EHRC have shown no desire to investigate.

 

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

Comments (6)

  • Miriam David says:

    I agree with David Rosenberg. I too was one of Jeremy Corbyn’s constituents until 2017 when I moved out to nearby Highgate. I also wanted to be allowed to speak out about antisemitism but have never been allowed a voice. I wrote a submission to EHRC, but the sloppy report does not even identify, as most government reports do, who they received evidence from, and how they evaluated it. It is indeed thin and repetitive. Secondly in 2018 I wrote to the 4 Jewish women MPs who were complaining about antisemitism about their views as Jewish women, and as socialists/Labour members. Basically, was it better to attack the Labour leadership and thereby divide so that the party was not electable, and thus have a Tory government. They were Luciana Berger, Louise Ellman, Margaret Hodge and Ruth Smeeth. Not one of them did me the courtesy of a reply. And so it came to pass: we still have a Tory government. Their commitment to a fair and equal society seemed and seems thin. How ironic to use EHRC for antisemitism and not gender, race or class equality.

  • John Hall says:

    It is quite clear that Corbyn is no anti-semite. He IS against Jewish settler-colonial self-determination (?contrary to Example 7 of IHRA definition of anti-semitism which protects “the Jewish people’s” right to self-determination) and this is why these Zionists have set him up as a defender of anti-semitism. Of course the BoD speak for “the Jewish people”, don’t they? We need to get back to basics and argue that there is no entity called “the” Jewish people, and thus the BoD cannot profess to speak for them. Politicians may talk of “the” British people, meaning anyone who lives within Britain. What have Jews got to tie them together? Politics? Morals? Love of the human rights-abusing Israeli Government? A collective determination to dispossess Palestinians and force them into exile? Answers in an email please.

  • John Adrian Burns says:

    We need an advocate for Jeremy to pin down the contradictory statements being made. Which Laws have been broken? Are we talking of structures, procedures, protocols; eg the Chakrabarti Report, just not being implemented during JC’s time. If so who was responsible. Methinks that the buried Forde Report – the much sought after leaked Report submitted to the EHRC – will elucidate. So why is this document being hidden away?
    It seems clear to me that Keir has no inclination to unearth matters that are clearly being obfuscated. He appears to acting as a Counsel for the Prosecution? This tunneled blinkered attitude was evident in Keir’s interview with Andrew Marr on BBC1 TV this morning, he’s hiding behind a stage managed adaptation of the EHRC’s ‘findings’ to suit his prejudiced actions on behalf of the B.o.D’s and those in the PLP who want to further vilify JC.

  • Doug says:

    The internal report was effectively commissioned for the EHRC, so what is interesting is who decided not to submit it
    It still managed to hamstring the EHRC and is ths subject of the class action against the party
    Only a matter of time before we have our day in court

  • Terence McGinity says:

    The greatest service anyone can do for Jewish Communities as is the case for any community is to keep it safe. That means allaying fears where there is no cause. The Labour Party despite its propensity towards imperialism has a membership who overwhelmingly support anti racism. I think of Cable Street comparing the actions of LP men and women to those of the BoD.
    Jeremy Corbyn is precisely that strand of membership who have made the LP a welcoming haven for communities. The actions of the LP Right Wing are making the LP an unsafe place. That is as clear as daylight.
    I welcome the support of the seven unions and would greatly appreciate their further resistance to the blairite coup.

  • Jaye says:

    JVL should read carefully the comments of posters and not allow expressions of antisemitism just because other aspects of a post are acceptable. For example John Hall’s comments above bubble over into contempt for Jews, our religion, our history and the bond that we feel with one another. He writes among other things “We need .. to argue that there is no entity called the Jewish people” “What have Jews got to tie them together … Morals?”
    And he’s posting to a Jewish site so where do you start with someone with those views; at least don’t give him a forum.

    [JVL responds: we do read comments carefully. We delete ones that are just scoring points, abusive or antisemitic. But we approve many we do not agree with or agree with only in part. You clearly do not like the tone of John Hall’s comment, but he raises a prefectly legitimate question as what all Jewish people have in common and suggests 4 possible answers. It would be better if you expanded your response: “our religion, our history and the bond that we feel with one another” than to ask us to censor his views.]

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