JVL statement on EHRC investigation of the Labour Party

JVL statement on EHRC investigation of the Labour Party

3rd June 2019


The decision of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to investigate the Labour Party for potential failings in the way its officials and procedures have handled complaints of antisemitism is a response to large numbers of accusations made against the Party over many months.  It has faced a wave of allegations of antisemitism and other inappropriate behaviour laid against members since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.

Jewish Voice for Labour hopes that this investigation will clear the air and demonstrate the lack of substance behind many of these repeated allegations.

The Terms of Reference of the investigation make clear that it will not look at the prevalence of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Its focus will be on how complaints have been handled.

Jewish Voice for Labour believes that this will reveal that the Labour Party apparatus under the previous general secretary Iain McNicol, Jennie Formby’s predecessor, failed to deal appropriately with a large increase in the number of disciplinary charges generated against members.

The inquiry will also need to take note of new allegations, now in the public domain, that during McNicol’s tenure:

i)   processing of complaints was deliberately delayed by officials in defiance of decisions of the National Executive Committee;

ii) records were deleted by departing officials to prevent the incoming Formby regime from having knowledge of thousands of allegations;

iii) prior to deletion copies were made by officials (now no longer on the party staff), and that these illegally extracted cases form a substantial element of the evidence submitted by the complainants to the EHRC.

Extremely pertinent to the investigation, officials serving under McNicol seem to have been reluctant to implement recommendations of the Chakrabarti report in 2016 which had the potential to make the complaints procedures more efficient, just and transparent. The failure to implement these reforms, agreed by the NEC, had a range of negative consequences. We understand that there were indeed long delays in dealing with some members who were guilty of antisemitism, with the result that those who had complained of wrongful treatment or behaviour were not satisfied that their cases had been appropriately handled. Conversely, members against whom the allegations were flimsy or worse were subjected to painful accusations, long drawn-out investigations and disruption to their personal and political lives, without any redress.

The EHRC investigation will be welcome if it reveals

a) the extent of unfairness and lack of transparency which appears to have characterised the party’s disciplinary procedures before Jennie Formby’s appointment as General Secretary in 2018, and

b) the extent to which, since the appointment of Jennie Formby, the Party has worked hard to deal with and evaluate carefully complaints of antisemitism in a genuine attempt to deal with all cases fairly and effectively.

JVL intends to contribute to the inquiry a body of evidence from many Jewish members of the Labour Party, demonstrating that they have not experienced any discrimination or discomfort as Jews in the Labour Party.

For more information contact:

Jenny Manson
Leah Levane

Comments (6)

  • S H says:

    Totally shocking conspiracy of smears and misinformation. The Israeli Lobby have lied and lied again, intentionally stoked hatred to prevent Jeremy Corbyn becoming the Prime Minister and then helping the beleaguered Palestinians under seige. Meanwhile Tory Party members joke on social networks about killing Muslims and black people without the British media being bothered by it.

  • 4 tweets by Tony Lerman says:

    Tony Lerman on the EHRC

    Antony Lerman (@tonylerman)

    29/05/2019, 09:11
    Following the ⁦‪@EHRC‬⁩‬’s misguided decision to investigate whether ⁦‪@UKLabour‬⁩‬ “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”, I’m reposting my piece refuting charges of institutional antisemitism against Labour The Labour Party, ‘institutional antisemitism’ and irresponsible politics

    Antony Lerman (@tonylerman)

    29/05/2019, 09:48
    In 2017, ⁦‪@EHRC‬⁩‬ head Rebecca Hilsenrath said: ‘Antisemitism is racism and ⁦‪@UKLabour‬⁩‬ needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist Party.’ Prior to its investigation, is it not worrying that the CEO already claims to know what Labour needs to do? The Labour Party, ‘institutional antisemitism’ and irresponsible politics

    Antony Lerman (@tonylerman)

    29/05/2019, 09:37
    The Terms of Reference of ⁦‪@EHRC‬⁩‬’s investigation into antisemitic discrimination in ⁦‪@UKLabour‬⁩‬ are worryingly opaque. No indication of the nature of the alleged evidence. No regard given to the highly charged atmosphere giving this move a political character.

    Antony Lerman (@tonylerman)

    29/05/2019, 10:18
    More opaque ⁦‪@EHRC‬⁩‬ wording in its Terms of Reference for investigating #antisemitism in ⁦‪@UKLabour‬⁩‬: it “may have regard to” the #IHRA working definition of antisemitism. Why “may”? They must use a definition. If IHRA is not fit for purpose–and it isn’t–just say so.

  • Tim Wilkinson says:

    Hilsenrath’s statement was also disseminated by the EHRC’s official Twitter account, and presented as made in her official capacity: https://twitter.com/EHRC/status/912611809613553665 Not an uncommon form of corruption, using an official position to push a personal agenda under the imprimatur of a (somewhat) respected organisation. E.g. Christine Lagarde as IMF head repeatedly boosting Osborne & Cameron’s austerity narrative, contradicting and sidelining the organisation’s own expert officials. The good news is that this kind of tactic suggests unwillingness or inability to get staff to do the dirty work themselves.

  • Mike Scott says:

    I have discovered that anyone can contribute to this investigation. What you say is supposed to fit their Terms of Reference, but I believe that they need to understand the context within which the investigation has been called and have made my contribution along those lines.

    The Terms of Reference are here:
    https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/sites/default/files/terms-of-reference-investigation-into-labour-party-28-may-2019.pdf

    and you can email them at:
    [email protected].

    Let’s all make our own points – they need to have some sort of balance!

  • Dr ALAN MADDISON says:

    These ex-staffers need to be charged for the criminal activities related to their despicable behaviour. They put victims risk, and damaged the lives of so many innocent Labour members. They may even have contributed to our failure to win the 2017 GE, and to protect the estimated 30 000 lives lost through continued cuts to NHS and Social Care budgets.

    I have no confidence in the EHRC investigation, seeing the profiles of those involved.

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