The Labour Party’s inquiry into allegations of antisemitism in the Oxford University Labour Club has today been leaked. Carried out by Baroness Jan Royall, the report was commissioned after Alex Chalmers, Co-Chair of the club, resigned in February 2016 stating rampant levels of antisemitism as his reason for doing so. The incident brought antisemitism in the Labour Party into the public spotlight, and Campaign Against Antisemitism met Baroness Royall to assist her inquiry.
The full version of Baroness Royall’s report was originally kept secret, with only the executive summary being published in May. It was then expected to be published in full alongside the wider-ranging Chakrabarti Inquiry report into antisemitism in the Labour Party last month, but instead Baroness Royall was brought into the Chakrabarti Inquiry as a Co-Vice Chair, perhaps as a means of keeping her quiet. Baroness Royall’s report remained unpublished and the report issued by the Chakrabarti Inquiry was a total whitewash. The JC has now published a leaked copy of Baroness Royall’s full report.
Baroness Royall finds “no evidence that the Club is itself institutionally antisemitic” but notes a “cultural problem in which behaviour and language that would once have been intolerable is now tolerated. Some Jewish members do not feel comfortable attending the meetings, let alone participating.”
Looking at the wider issue of antisemitism, she also explains that “a pervading discourse now is that Jews are neither weak, nor poor, neither workers, nor have-nots. In short, Jews cannot be victims and cannot be discriminated against.” She goes on to say that “being anti-Zionist…is often used deliberately as a tool of antisemitism”.
Baroness Royall further notes “an environment in which Jews cannot debate, or feel safe to do so, unless their every remark is prefaced by a criticism of the Israeli government”. While she explains that a clear definition of what is antisemitic “can provide useful tools for helping consider what may, or may not, constitute antisemitic discourse” and urges the Chakrabarti Inquiry “to consider this carefully”, the Chakrabarti enquiry conspicuously avoided defining antisemitism.
The full text of Baroness Royall’s report does not change our opinion following the publication of the partial report. The full report tells us nothing new, except that Baroness Royall thinks that Alex Chalmers was wrong when he resigned as Co-Chair of Oxford University Labour Club over rampant institutional antisemitism.
The leaking of Baroness Royall’s report has revealed that it too fails to identify individuals who are guilty of antisemitism within the Labour Party. It now seems that this reluctance to name those responsible may be a reflection of Labour’s inner conflicts.
The Young Labour conference at Scarborough followed shortly after Young Labour’s own suppressed investigation. It became clear at that Scarborough conference that some of the individuals alleged to be guilty of antisemitism at Oxford are the same young politicians with important roles in Momentum, the movement that help engineer the election of Jeremy Corbyn.
The fact that they are under suspicion lends greater urgency to the task of providing transparency on this issue, which the Labour party refuses to do.
Yet again, it seems that the needs for political expediency outranks the desire of the Labour Party’s leadership to confront the antisemitism in its ranks.