The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found that the UK’s Labour Party failed to tackle anti-Semitism in its ranks and was “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.”
The equalities watchdog “identified serious failings” among the Labour Party leadership in addressing the issue of anti-Semitism, saying they had “inadequate processes” for handling complaints.
In a statement released alongside the report, the EHRC had harsh words for Labour.
Our analysis points to a culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it … we found unlawful acts of indirect discrimination and harassment for which the Labour Party is responsible.
Alongside the other concerns raised, the EHRC found evidence of political interference in the complaints process, as the then-Labour leader’s office inappropriately involved itself in 23 investigations and looked at the files of 70 other reports.
The EHRC has handed the Labour Party an unlawful act notice, which gives it six weeks to issue an action plan to combat the problems and allows the commission to recommend any necessary measures to avoid a continuation or repeat of the situation. The current Labour leader, Keir Starmer, responded to the report, calling it a “day of shame” for his party, apologizing for the findings and pledging that “never again will Labour let you down.” However, he repeatedly dodged questions from reporters over whether members of the party’s leadership who have been accused of overseeing this discrimination, including previous leader Jeremy Corbyn, will be expelled from Labour.
Following the publication of the report, Corbyn took to Facebook to reject its findings and defend his handling of anti-Semitism, claiming that his leadership team actually made “it much easier and swifter to remove anti-Semites.”
The Labour Party faced accusations of anti-Semitism throughout Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader, with concerns initially being raised back in 2016. Corbyn claimed repeatedly that he had the issue under control and would ensure disciplinary procedures were improved to address concerns.
In July 2018, Labour adopted a new anti-Semitism code, but it was seen as falling short of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition. In response to the failure to deal with internal anti-Semitism, nine Labour MPs and several members of the House of Lords resigned from the party.
In April, Corbyn was replaced by Sir Keir Starmer, who pledged to make tackling the issue a “priority.”
The investigation was launched by the EHRC in May 2019, after complaints were made by a number of groups, including the Jewish Labour Movement. The interim chair of the EHRC, Caroline Waters, described the report’s findings as “inexcusable” and stated that they “appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so.”
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