First you see it, then you don’t: the great Chakrabarti Report mystery

Jonathan Rosenhead, 27 December 2017

They seek it here, they seek it there, that damned elusive Chakrabarti Report.


Some weeks ago we discovered that the Chakrabarti Report into antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of racism, commissioned by Jeremy Corbyn, had mysteriously disappeared from the Labour Party website. Jewish Voice for Labour made a series of informal inquiries, but to no avail so eventually we sent a formal message to the Labour Party about this. And, just to be on the safe side, we sent it direct to every NEC member – we didn’t want it to get stuck in a dusty email inbox in, say, Newcastle.

And like magic, two days later, the Report came back. But don’t get too excited, because the chances are that most people wont be able to find it. If you google say ‘Labour Party, Chakrabarti Report’ you’ll get directed to copious media discussion and pro-Israel interest group rants – but not the Report itself. Indeed if you follow the links to the Report still given on Labour List and other supposedly authoritative websites you get taken to the place on Labour’s site where the Report used to live until it was unceremoniously ejected. (All you will get there is ‘404 Not Found’.) And if you try the search facility on the Labour Party’s own website and take ‘Chakrabarti Report’ as your search term – well, until a few days ago. you wouldn’t have found it either.

Before JVL wrote its message to NEC members, a search for ‘Chakrabarti Report’ on the Party website yielded 12 results, none of which was a link to the Report. One of them actually leads – still – to the speech that Jeremy Corbyn gave at the launch of the Report last June; and that speech has a link saying “The Report can be found here”. But it can’t. That link connects you to a page on the website with the message “Just like the Tories’ plan for Britain, this page doesn’t exist.” In another context this might be considered humorous.

And even though the Report is back on the site now, you have to be very persistent to find it! (How to do so is explained at the end of this piece.)

What lies behind all this cloak-and-dagger stuff? Lets start with the content of the Report itself, a serious attempt to bring the escalating hysteria about alleged rampant antisemitism in the Labour Party into some sort of rational focus. Its launch in June 2016 was, however, hijacked by a fabricated stunt alleging antisemitism by a questioner at the event, which successfully overshadowed the Report’s principal conclusion: that the Labour Party is not overrun by antisemitism, or indeed by other varieties of racism. The Report included recommendations on how debates (particularly on Israel) should be conducted by party members. But it is the recommendations on the Party’s disciplinary processes that are the most probable reason for ‘disappearing’ the Report, and disappearing it right now.

Here are just a few of those recommendations:

  • Introduce a more graduated range of sanctions besides suspension and expulsion
  • There should be no life-time bans
  • There should be time-limits on bringing charges, so limiting backwards trawling through social media
  • It should be normal for the accused member to be informed promptly of the nature of the charge, and the identity of the complainant
  • Until these processes are reviewed and revised there should be a moratorium on the triggering of new disciplinary investigations

Observant Party members will have noticed that none of this has happened. Almost more shockingly, these process recommendations have not yet even been discussed by the NEC. In the event that Jeremy Corbyn will soon, it is to be hoped, have a secure majority on the NEC, this needs to be put right.

But in the 18 months since these sensible proposals for the Labour Party to observe the principles of natural justice and proportionality were made, they have simply been ignored. Scores of cases (perhaps hundreds, who knows?) have been (mis)handled under procedures that deny due process and natural justice to those accused.

And now a new set of what could almost be called ‘celebrity’ disciplinary cases is suddenly upon us. Tony Greenstein (one of the founders of Palestine Solidarity Campaign), Marc Wadsworth (at the centre of the confected antisemitism scare at the Chakrabarti launch) and Jackie Walker (ex Vice-Chair of Momentum) are all due to appear imminently before Disciplinary Panels. Each of them has lingered in suspended membership for 15 to 18 months, but now suddenly there is a great rush. Tony Greenstein had to take the Labour Party to court to get an injunction to give him time to respond to the massive dossier only just provided – and he won. Why the hurry?

One plausible theory is that the apparatchiks who organise these proceedings are now worried that if a strengthened Corbyn NEC majority results from the election results on January 12th they may get their wings clipped. One must certainly hope so. But meanwhile these cases are proceeding full speed ahead, and it is worth repeating that the current disciplinary hearings violate virtually every one of the Report’s process recommendations.

That seems like a pretty good reason to have taken the Report down from the website, or hide it so well that most people will give up before they find it.

The Puzzle Solved

Here’s how we found the Report on the Labour Party website:

  • Click the search icon and type in ‘Chakrabarti Report’
  • This takes you to a page with one item “How We Work”.
  • There is one action option “Learn more”. Click it.
  • On the resulting page scroll down to the very bottom – past “How does the Labour Party work”, past “Your local Labour team”, past “The NEC”, past “Creating Policy”, past “The Shadow Cabinet” and then, finally, there are two lines on the Chakrabarti Report, with a link to it.

Why it is on a page headed “How the Labour Party works” when nothing in the current disciplinary procedures reflects the recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report itself, is one of the mysteries we have yet to resolve…

Or you can find it here on the JVL website.