Labour’s Disciplinary Net Catches Trevor Phillips

Image taken from Twitter
  • Sir Trevor Phillips’ suspension from membership of the Labour Party highlights disciplinary system flaws
  • Use of definition of ‘Islamophobia’ parallels problems around ‘antisemitism’

Sir Trevor Phillips’ administrative suspension from the Labour Party appears to result from a complaint of Islamophobia. Labour’s strict policy of secrecy normally prevents public discussion of the charges against accused or suspended members. However a defence of Phillips mounted by the centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange (of which Phillips is a Senior Fellow) includes the full text of the charge sheet against him. (It also contains his testy response.)

Jewish Voice for Labour does not wish to comment on the substance of these charges. However the public record shows that Phillips has a seeming obsession with the UK’s Muslim population and repeatedly asserts its unwillingness to integrate. He also inveighs against multiculturalism. His support by a right-wing think tank reveals a curious orientation for a Labour Party member.

What his case does highlight is the impact of Labour’s current disciplinary arrangements on the right to free expression of its members. Phillips’ suspension is notable for its focus (Islamophobia) and for the prominence of the target (ex-Chair of Equalities and Human Rights Commission). However hundreds, possibly thousands, of Labour members, numbers of Jews among them, have been investigated, suspended, forced out or expelled based on allegations of antisemitism whose details are kept secret. Members cannot discover even who has made the complaint against them.

Phillips’ outrage about his treatment would carry more conviction if he hadn’t repeatedly adopted apocalyptic language as part of the assault on Labour over antisemitism (“Labour is now led by antisemites and racists”) and engaged in high-profile attacks on Labour for failure to prosecute cases more aggressively.

Jewish Voice for Labour’s co-Chair Jenny Manson commented:

“There is an irony in Sir Trevor Phillips complaining about a process which he appeared to approve of when it related to antisemitism. But he objects to it when it is applied to him. Perhaps he might like to reconsider his support for disciplinary procedures that are inconsistent with internal democracy and freedom of expression.”

Jewish Voice for Labour will not comment on the correspondence between the Labour Party and Phillips since this investigation has not been completed. However once cases have been completed we have, unfortunately, repeatedly had to criticise the way in which individuals have been unfairly and unreasonably treated over allegations of antisemitism. We have recently published an account by one of our members illustrating the perverse and deeply upsetting way in which Labour’s disciplinary processes prevent members from adequately defending themselves from ill-formulated charges.

For further discussion of Trevor Phillips’ suspension and the reaction to it, use the links to see articles from Skwawkbox and Baroness Sayeeda Warsi in the Guardian.



Comments (12)

  • Mark Francis says:

    Trevor Phillips signed a letter to the Guardian with 23 others – including Frederick Forsythe & Majid Nawaaz urging people not to vote Labour. Forsythe is a member of the Tory Party & Nawaaz is a Li Dem candidate so no surprises there.
    Phillips should have been suspended just for this. Alistair Campbell admitted voting Lib Dem over Brexit & was immediately thrown out, even though this was afterwards & he had called on others to do so.
    If you are a member of a party & you do not want people to vote for it , then get out.
    Same goes for the JLM.

  • David Bealing says:

    Trevor Phillips has shown his hand several times in his antagonism to a socialist led Labour Party. He should have resigned years ago and joined a right wing Tory party where his inclinations would be better represented.

  • Mary Davies says:

    I have no sympathy for Phillips or his views.

  • Clarissa Smid says:

    I think the previous commenters are missing the point here.

    JVL have released this statement to draw attention to the unfair and inconsistent complaints and disciplinary process that is being used to silence ALL dissenting views that make the Leadership anxious or put their own ignorant or sham agendas into a bad light.

    Whether you like Phillips or not, whether you agree to his ideas or not: the system that is now adjudicating his membership of the Labour Party is totally flawed.

    If he’s guilty of anything, he still has the right to a “fair trial” per se. This is not a fair trial.

    That’s the real story here. And if they can do this to the guilty, they can do it to the innocent, especially of they don’t like your views.

  • Ellie Palmer says:

    Shortly before the GE 2019 Trevor Phillips was unperturbed by the prospect of a massive swing to the Tories in the GE. He was also unperturbed by the prospect of the UK leaving Europe without a deal.
    He is unfit to be a member of the Labour Party – a Tory by any standards .

  • Comtesse says:

    I don’t agree with the parallels drawn in this article between the vicitms of Labour’s witchunt against people who have been exercising their right to express themselves freely on Israel, IHRA policy/ definition and Trevor Phillips. It is true that Trevor Phillips does seem to have been unfair in his condemnation of people for alleged antisemitism. He said that Ken Livingstone was the embodiment of Labour’s problem with antisemitism.If that is so , then I do not believe that Labour has an antisemitism problem ( at least not on a normal definition of the word). I do not think that Ken Livingstone did antything wrong when he stated that ‘ Hitler supported Zionism’. ( He explained what he meant by that and why he believed that it was true. How could anyone complain about that?)There is however a case for stating that Trevor Phillips HAS brought the Labour party in to disrepute with his statements about Muslims. Why did he feel compelled to point out that the offenders in some ‘paedophile grooming’ cases were practising Muslims? ( I am not sure that they all were by the way). Let us say for the sake of argument that they were all practising Muslims. What are we supposed to make of this? I find it offensive. I find it bigoted. I think it brings the Labour party into disrepute. I also feel compelled to say that Jimmy Saville, Max Clifford, Epstein and Rold Harris were NOT practising Muslims.

  • Allan Howard says:

    I wonder who made the complaint(s) against Phillips regarding things he said very publicly three or four years ago, and why they didn’t make a complaint against him at the time, but have done so only NOW, just a few weeks before Jeremy stands down as leader.

    The very fact that Phillips came out with such totally OTT verbiage as ‘political gangsters’ AND made the ludicrous claim that he had (quite possibly) been targeted by the LP (by which he means Jeremy Corbyn of course) as a warning to the EHRC, leaves me with little doubt that it was all orchestrated and contrived as a ‘farewell gift’ to Jeremy, although it wouldn’t surprise me if the plotters very LAST ‘gift’ was for the EHRC to publish the findings of its so-called inquiry just prior to Jeremy standing down, or perhaps shortly afterwards, and I have no doubt whatsoever that they have been working away on it to make it as damning as possible.

  • Barry Wesson says:

    The stench of hypocrisy emanating from Baron Mann of Turncoat is all pervasive. Jenny Mansen is correct, Mann and Phillips endorsed, encouraged and fully utilised what reversible Mann now refers to as this “Orwellian ” procedure when hunting the left. An ally of Philipps Ms Maltby was in full outrage mode in yesterdays press decrying the decision, citing an article he wrote in 2016, asking if it was right and fair to go ” that far back to find something untoward” !! How far did did Mann and the BoD /Jewish Chronicle , and their adherents “go back” to smear Corbyn and others of the left? Apparently the only valid racism for these people us Anti Semitism. Cynical hypocrisy and phoneyness. By the way ,, didn’t Phillips auto expel himself by his letter signing and telling the electorate not to vote for his own party? So how is he still a member? Was it the Orwellian process that forgave him? Well I never will.

  • Philip Ward says:

    Most of the comments here fail to understand that, irrespective of Philipps’ guilt or not, his case once again exposes Labour’s Stalinist disciplinary procedures. I’m glad that JVL sees this and is able to point out his utter hypocrisy in supporting the use of such methods against anti-zionists and then complaining about his own treatment (although, as I understand it, he does have a charge sheet and evidence against him, as well as the identity of his accusers). JVL is being consistent in opposing the use of these bureaucratic procedures against anyone and supporting due process in disciplinary cases.

  • Ruth Sharratt says:

    I’ve looked at Trevor Phillip’s response to the letter from the LP. The disciplinary process used by the LP to stop ‘wrong think’ is appalling. Whilst I have no sympathy with his views and note the irony of his suspension, it doesn’t make it right.
    I was struck though, that if you substitute the phrase ‘anti-semitism’ for ‘Islamaphobia’ it is a coherent and cogent attack on the LP’s approach to and definition of anti-semitism.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Yes Philip, but the difference IS that the LP is being condemned by John Mann and others, including ‘Labour backbencher Khalid Mahmood – the longest-serving Muslim MP’, AND being reported right across the MSM as an act of ‘revenge’ for Trevor Phillips criticising Jeremy Corbyn and the ‘leadership over its ‘failure to deal with anti-semitism’. Here are a several clips from the Mail’s coverage, under the following headline:

    Muslim Labour MP slams party’s ’embarrassing’ decision to suspend equality champion Trevor Phillips for ‘Islamophobia’ after he voiced concerns about Asian grooming gangs – as he claims he’s victim of Corbynista revenge

    In a column for The Times he questioned the motivation behind the sanction and accused Labour bosses of ‘political gangsterism’.

    ‘Some will see it as payback by Corbynistas for public criticisms I made of the leadership’s failure to tackle antisemitism in the party,’ he wrote.

    ‘Another possibility is that it’s an attempt to scare the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which I used to lead and which is investigating Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism.

    ‘Weaponising Islamophobia to attack political opponents may seem like clever tactics but trying to intimidate a legally independent organisation is pure political gangsterism.’


    And here’s a few more headlines (and although they are the headlines from their respective websites, I have little doubt that in their actual newspapers they ran the story as headline ‘news’ on their front pages):

    RACE TSAR BARRED Equality champion Trevor Phillips claims he was suspended from Labour by party ‘gangsters’ in ‘Corbynista payback’ (The Sun)

    Labour attacked for ‘astonishing’ decision to suspend Trevor Phillips for Islamophobia (Express)

    Labour suspends race pioneer Trevor Phillips over Islamophobia claims (The Times)

    And in a caption to a picture of a happily smiling Trevor Phillips at the beginning of the article (which I have little doubt was either taken by the Times to include with the article or chosen precisely because he WAS happily smiling) it says the following:

    Trevor Phillips, the first chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, says Labour was becoming a “brutish, authoritarian cult”

    Trevor Phillips accuses Labour of shutting down ‘healthy debate’ after suspension for ‘Islamophobia’ investigation (The Telegraph)

    And this is what it says near the beginning of the article:

    Mr Phillips said: “I’m kind of surprised that what is and always has been an open and democratic party decides that its members can’t have healthy debate about how we address differences of values and outlooks.”

    Phillips and Co are of course being ironic AND just rubbing it in about the many people who have been suspended and expelled from the LP (or ended up leaving of their own accord) on trumped up and totally contrived and false charges/allegations of A/S, like Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth and Chris Williamson. As with the Margaret Hodge episode – which DIDN’T just happen by chance on the spur of the moment of course – ‘they’ are just showing US on the left yet again that they hold all the cards and have total control of the narrative AND how any given ‘episode’ is presented to millions of people. And the only ‘gangsterism’ that has been going on is by those who – during the course of the past four years or so – ‘transformed’ Jeremy into an anti-semite, and the left in general into anti-semites and bullies and thugs. And I have no doubt whatsoever that they have thoroughly enjoyed every single minute of it.

  • Allan Howard says:

    PS I just brought up the Policy Exchange document-cum-defence of Trevor Phillips, and in the bottom half of page one there’s a large picture been put together of a number of people, and THEN, at the bottom of page two which is otherwise empty, it says:

    Front cover image: (Clockwise from top left) Rt Hon Lord Blunkett; Maajid Nawaz; Rt Hon Charles Clarke; Sarah Champion MP; Peter Clarke CVO, OBE, QPM; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; Trevor Phillips OBE; Amanda Spielman; Barack Obama; Rt Hon Theresa May MP. All have publicly been accused of Islamophobia.

    Yes, I realise they have obviously scanned the hard-copy document (which they are selling for £10), but I wonder who thought of THAT idea! And ‘they’ obviously put a lot of work into the document, so it’s no wonder Phillips didn’t go public with his suspension until six days after he received the email telling him he had been, although I have no doubt whatsoever that he knew it was coming – ie he didn’t go public until AFTER the document-cum-defence was completed, which speaks volumes about how aggrieved he REALLY was at being suspended.

Comments are now closed.