Jeremy Corbyn has rubbished the independence of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), saying that it is “part of the Government machine” and that its independence as been “taken away” by the Conservatives.
Mr Corbyn made the remarks in his first interview since stepping down as Labour leader, which he gave to the fringe blog, Middle East Eye, which has a history of belittling Labour antisemitism. The interview was conducted by the controversial journalist, Peter Oborne, and the full video will apparently be available tomorrow.
The EHRC launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party on 28th May 2019 following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Asked whether the EHRC’s alleged impartiality would affect its report, Mr Corbyn reportedly replied: “Let’s see what happens.”
Mr Corbyn further claimed that the EHRC was “underfunded” by the Conservative Government which, “for some reason, which I don’t fully understand…decided to take away its independent status and make it part of the government machine.”
Mr Corbyn added that had he won the 2019 General Election he would have restored the EHRC’s independence.
Mr Corbyn’s basis for questioning the EHRC’s independence is not, however, clear. This is also not the first time that Mr Corbyn has tried to undermine the credibility of the independent body (which was established by a Labour Government) investigating his Party for racism: during the 2019 General Election campaign, Mr Corbyn pledged to reform the EHRC if he won power, again without providing a basis for his Party’s concerns, leaving observers to speculate that it was due to the EHRC’s investigation.
Mr Corbyn’s remarks are just the latest attempt by the far-left to question the EHRC’s credibility. Recently, other far-left figures have also suggested that the EHRC may itself be racist, or that if it concludes that the Labour Party is racist it means that it is racist toward other minorities rather than Jews.
Incredibly, Mr Corbyn complained that claims that he had tolerated antisemitism were “wrong and extremely unfair” and that “I’m the one that actually introduced a process for dealing with it,” a common refrain by those seeking to defend Mr Corbyn and the former General Secretary of the Labour Party, Jennie Formby, during whose disastrous tenure the EHRC launched its investigation. Mr Corbyn insisted that the number of cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party was “small” or, at another point in the interview, “very small”. He praised the Chakrabarti Report, which was widely panned as a whitewash and whose author was rewarded by Mr Corbyn for protecting him with a peerage (despite his earlier promise not to award peerages).
Mr Corbyn recalled his mother’s involvement in the historic Cable Street demonstrations against antisemitic fascism and insisted that antisemitism is “absolutely, totally unacceptable in any form”, even though he himself has indulged in it on multiple occasions and worked to protect or elevate allies and supporters who had done so as well. Mr Corbyn even had the audacity to lament how Jewish Labour MPs were being “troll[ed]”, even though those same Jewish women MPs either themselves called him an “antisemitic racist” or complained that he did nothing to assist them, declining even to communicate with them for months on end until two were hounded out of the Party. Regarding such MPs, Mr Corbyn not only showed no remorse but even suggested that he may have been “too tolerant of people”.
The interview was an indication that Mr Corbyn will retreat during his retirement from leadership to the far-left fringes where he has always felt at home.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Jeremy Corbyn’s interview with a fringe blog questioning the independence of the Equality and Human Rights Commission is just the latest attempt by the far-left to try to undermine the EHRC in anticipation of its report into the Party’s antisemitism during his leadership. Mr Corbyn and his allies have repeatedly suggested that the EHRC is not impartial and even that it itself may be racist, and that therefore its conclusions cannot be trusted. These self-proclaimed ‘anti-racist campaigners’ are so blinded by their own prejudices and self-righteousness that they cannot see the injury that they are causing to the very minorities they profess to care about. The era of Mr Corbyn’s leadership may be over but the sordid campaign to rehabilitate his ghastly legacy is in full swing.”
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.