The revelations in the leaked Labour report are a genuine scandal

John McDonnell on Novara's TyskySour, 20 April 2020

JVL Introduction

John McDonnell pulls no punches in his comments on the leaked Labour Party report, expressing the widespread anger felt by so many Party members and supporters.

“If what is reported in the leaked document is true… it would represent the most shocking act of treachery against the party, its members and our supporters in Labour’s century-long history…”

“It would also represent a betrayal of all those who desperately needed a Labour government, especially in light of the current crisis…”

“The same procedures must apply to those implicated in this report as apply to other party members… Those found guilty of serious contraventions of our rules should be expelled.”


We also link to McDonnell’s interview with Sky News on this topic a few days earlier (see below the article).


This article was originally published by the Guardian on Tue 21 Apr 2020. Read the original here.

The revelations in the leaked Labour report are a genuine scandal

With more than 16,000 people already dead in the UK and more tragedies to inevitably come, both at home and as the virus terrifyingly tears through the global south, dealing with Covid-19 and saving lives must be the unremitting focus of our thoughts and actions.

But in these long days of lockdown, other concerns sometimes intrude.

Last week a leaked Labour party report examining the handling of antisemitism complaints seized the attention of thousands of our members. The report was the result of an internal investigation into the party’s governance and legal unit, which handles disciplinary cases, and was meant to be submitted as the annex to the party’s submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The document chronicles many failures in the complaints process, and includes evidence from thousands of emails, messages and two WhatsApp groups featuring senior management. These internal messages have sparked further controversy, as they appear to show that senior party staff were viciously cruel to members of our shadow cabinet, and were even actively working to undermine the party’s electoral success.

The report will have been especially affecting for those who worked so hard and enthusiastically, delivering leaflets, knocking on doors and hitting those phone lines, to try to secure the election of a Labour government in 2017. If its contents are accurate – and so far, I understand that there has been no public denial of the veracity of the internal communications exposed – the hearts of many party members and supporters will be broken.

It has been calculated that Labour came within 2,500 votes, spread across a limited number of constituencies, of forming a government in 2017. If what is reported in the leaked document is true, that a group of senior staff undermined the chances of Labour going into government, it would represent the most shocking act of treachery against the party, its members and our supporters in Labour’s century-long history.

It would also represent a betrayal of all those who desperately needed a Labour government, especially in light of the current crisis.

We could now have been in the third year of a Labour government fully funding an NHS, which would consequently be so much better resourced and prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. The nurses and health workers and carers we go out to clap every Thursday evening would have had a decent pay rise, which the Conservatives voted to deny them. We would have celebrated the third anniversary of Labour’s formation of a National Care Service, fully funded to provide quality care for our elderly and vulnerable fellow citizens, with carers professionally recognised and properly paid.

So if the report has weight, expect all of us whose dreams of this transformative Labour government were shattered in 2017 to be angry.

Actually, bloody angry.

As well as staff undermining the party’s election chances, the report suggests that attempts to root out antisemitism in the party were also undermined by basic failures to catalogue complaints or seriously investigate allegations. The document also dispels the myth that the antisemitism problem among Labour members was merely a smear or part of a conspiracy. They existed and were serious.

That’s why it is equally scandalous, if the allegations are found to be correct, that staff not only failed to deal with cases of antisemitism effectively but also covered up their failure, providing inaccurate information on progress in tackling them.

The alleged abuse of Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler and Clive Lewis, three prominent black shadow ministers, was appalling and, as others have commented, betrayed a deeply worrying underlying strain of racism. The report also appears to document alleged attempts by party staff to fix the election of a new party leader, to manipulate parliamentary selections, and even to throw a byelection for factional advantage. All of these issues need thorough investigation.

The report should never have been leaked, or otherwise made public, without redactions to protect the identity of victims and complainants. I fully support Keir Starmer’s decision to launch an investigation – one which, he has been clear, must be independent and swift.

Of course, this investigation must look at the commissioning, drafting and leaking of the document, but surely the focus must be on its shocking contents. The same procedures must apply to those implicated in this report as apply to other party members. If charges are serious, implicated members are suspended pending the outcome of investigation and discipline.

Those found guilty of serious contraventions of our rules should be expelled.

Some of the initial responses to the report have been disturbing and disappointing. Various legal threats have been made against the Labour party, and even those commenting on the report publicly. Some commentary has bizarrely painted those suspected of wrongdoing as victims, while depicting those who compiled the evidence as perpetrators.

In the media, many pundits and political journalists who pounced on any “shock-horror” story from inside the Labour party over the past four years have suddenly fallen silent, with virtually nothing to say about the substance of this report.

One of the worst aspects of the episode has been the crushing disillusionment of many party members. Many are now actively contemplating leaving the party.

I appeal to them to stay. If we work together, we can democratise our party so that it is the members who are in control – and not an unelected group of bureaucrats.

John McDonnell has been Labour MP for Hayes and Harlington since 1997. He was shadow chancellor from 2015 to 2020

Comments (21)

  • RH says:

    Yeh but, No but …

    “The document also dispels the myth that the antisemitism problem among Labour members was merely a smear or part of a conspiracy.”

    The same infection of disproportion that undermines the truth.

    John – the problem of real antisemitism was *nowhere near* the scale of the problem of false accusation and the deviousness of ill-wishers in the heart of the central administration. To imply otherwise is to continue to smear the Party as a whole.

  • Bob Bran says:

    Not just expelled John, SUED!
    Funds were mis-allocated.
    Lives were ruined.
    The Labour Party’s reputation and prospects permanently damaged.
    All damages, both financial and repetitional should be pursued to the greatest extent of the law and criminal proceedings brought against the wreckers wherever they apply.

  • Emma says:

    Excellent article.

  • Helen Lombard says:

    If John had been the leader of the party, and not the incompetent and dithering Corbyn, we would have been in power.

  • dave says:

    “The document also dispels the myth that the antisemitism problem among Labour members was merely a smear or part of a conspiracy. They existed and were serious.”

    Define “serious”. John pulls a punch here. Serious to me means something unusually bad – and we know it isn’t. I think that he feels duty bound to distance himself from the truth, which is frustrating even at this late stage.

  • geoff rouse says:

    Antisemitism in the labour party exists. Let’s not fool ourselves. However when you consider the immense amount of exaggeration and publicity it received one is bewildered why the antisemitism in the tory party which is far higher was totally ignored. Getting down to rights and wrongs surely it is not only a Labour Party problem that these traitors misdirected the British people but surely it has to be an attack on democracy and should have been challenged in law along with the utter falsehoods and misinformation put out as fact to interfere and deliberately misdirect the proper process of a national election. Why did nobody take these liars to task in court and make them provide evidence to back up their claims? Is there no longer an electoral commission?

  • Diane Miles says:

    It is absolutely right that Labour policy with respect to suspensions should be carried out AND the promised independent review must be carried out and soon. Thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of Labour members have been defrauded. Unity will not be gained by wronged members just ignoring these crimes – it would be like capping a rotten tooth.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Disappointed he said the report shouldn’t be leaked. I have a right to know about the duplicity and treachery of some members of the Labour Party. What this report also shows is the disgusting racism towards black members of our party.

  • Margaret West says:

    Er – he said the report should not have been leaked WITHOUT REDACTIONS – in other words the names of the perpetrators and victims should have been anonymised ..

    I know that the same restraint has not been exercised by the MSM in their reporting of those accused of antisemitism in the Labour Party – but that does not make it right ..

  • Rafi says:

    Expel the louts !!
    John’s views are spot on and insightful.
    I agree with Helen in that John would have been a brilliant PM had we won.
    He was the architect of the economic policies, as well as an astute politician with the ability to unite all factions within Labour ranks.

  • JanP says:

    Helen Lombard seems to have lost her way. Without Corbyn the Labour Party would still be a shadow of its former self from the time so many people left because of the Iraq war and Tory lite policies. We would not have come within a few thousand votes of winning the 2017 GE. The austerity myth would not have been exposed.

  • Allan Howard says:

    I completely reject what ‘Helen Lombard’ said in respect of Jeremy. People like her are all over the internet, always pretending to be Jeremy Corbyn supporters – and have been for the past year/eighteen months or more commenting on various blogs – whilst continually finding fault with Jeremy where there is none – ie he’s ‘a coward’, or ‘he needs to get a spine’ etc – and between them (what with Repetition being a subtle form of brain-washing), they repeat it over and over and over again, several times a week, week after week, month after month, in between their posts in which they praise him and say how wonderful he is.

    The point being of course that if they give readers of the blog every impression that they support him, then many readers will believe that their criticisms of him must be legitimate. And believe me, they monitor and post comments on skwawkbox for example ALL day long, EVERY single day. And in relation to the leaked report, they very soon afterwards started attacking Jeremy Corbyn and Jennie Formby as in ‘He should have known what was going on’ and ditto Jennie, and in one case, an im-poster (as I call them) said – in relation to Jeremy – that “it must be the longest suicide in the history of the Labour Party”, and this is someone that often posted comments referring to “our Jeremy”!

  • Edward Hill says:

    When John McDonnell was getting “bloody angry” over 2017 election shattered dreams, did he reserve a little of his ire for the contribution to the 2019 defeat made by the newspaper about to publish his article?
    As the quality paper without inbuilt right wing bias ‘The Guardian’ should have been impartial in its coverage of the Labour Party and antisemitism. Yet ‘Dump The Guardian’ compiled a list of over 100 Guardian articles over 52 weeks in 2017/18 “to give you an idea of just how dedicated the paper has been in spreading these spurious charges of antisemitism.” The policy continued through to the election campaign, when the letter “to endorse Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister would be to surrender in the fight against anti-Jewish predjudice” from Joanna Lumley and others was printed, while one in defence of Corbyn was rejected.
    McDonnell’s article represents a coup for The Guardian; its editorial stance during Corbyn’s leadership has been vindicated by his closest associate.

  • Gary Lorimer says:

    Alan Howard is so off the mark in his response to Helen Lombard’s comment !
    It is blooming obvious that she is not a Corbyn admirer and Alan’s reply to her comment exposes him as intellectually biased and sorry to say rather verbose and arrogant

  • Margaret West says:

    Well I do not know about a “coup” by the Guardian ..?
    Someone had to say something ..

    As for McDonnell’s “They existed and were serious.” referring to complaints regarding antisemitism – it depends how this is quantified? Certainly there were some complaints of a serious nature which were upheld and the members were expelled. However there were a relatively small number of them and I think this is agreed by most? In addition some members walked away because they WERE guilty and some walked because although not guilty they sadly felt they would not get justice. Regarding the latter It seems it is time to look again at the complaints procedure – taking into account the investigation by Starmer and Rayner and of course the report by EHRC.

    NB I see that McDonnell modified his comments somewhat between the Sky interview and the Guardian article.

  • Dominic De Freitas says:

    Sir Keir Starmer was very impressive during his first PMQ session.
    I am so glad that he is our leader and have never supported Corbyn whose PMQs were similar to those you would hear at a callow youth convention !
    With Sir Keir as leader we will win the next election, reverse austerity and create a panacea

  • Doug says:

    John McDonnell is part of the problem he called it wrong
    Try this
    BBC has a serious paedophile problem

  • Doug says:

    Asa Winstanley
    Nails it in his Electronic Intifada article, the authors of the report were looking for evidence that there were serious cases
    What we dont know is were any of the complaints lost, if not then they have now been dealt with and we know the extent of the problem 0.1%
    My biggest worry at the moment is that all of the evidence is preserved for future investigations and research

  • Margaret West says:

    Doug ..
    What we do know is that there was a large backlog to deal with – and that was well known at the time and discussed. Some of the serious cases were dealt with – but whether some were overlooked is uncertain. I suppose it depends if the person who complained originally – followed it up?

    In addition to those who were expelled – were some who walked away*** – and these were listed separately. I remember that Jenny Formby provided a list of all of these numbers a year or so ago.

    An account of the backlog , how it was tackled, the numbers involved etc was provided by Barry Gardner on (I think?) “Sophy Ridge on Sunday” program on Sky News.

    Thank you for pointing us to the Intifada article – which I will look up.

    *** Of course those who walked away could have done so for many reasons and included those who were guilty and those who were innocent and decided they would not get justice.

  • JVL web says:

    JVL web editor’s comment:

    The exchange between Alan Howard and Gary Lorimer is hereby discontinued. Could commentators try to establish broad principles of agreement and/or disagreemdnt and not impugn each others’ motives.

    If anyone believes someone is not posting in good faith please contact JVL web directly. Do not attempt to argue it out in these comments pages.

  • Mark Francis says:

    The Labour traitors are now threatening to sue because their actions have been made public. They are represented by the infamous Mark Lewis.

Comments are now closed.