Over a quarter of attendees at the Labour Party’s annual conference voted this weekend against the introduction of a new semi-independent disciplinary process.
The changes are required by the Party’s Action Plan, agreed with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found Labour to be institutionally racist toward Jewish people following an investigation in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant.
Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee recently endorsed the changes, albeit with eight members voting against and eighteen in favour. Together with the conference vote, it is clear that the Labour Party remains divided on whether to tackle antisemitism in its ranks.
The pro-Corbyn Momentum faction reportedly instructed its delegates to vote against the changes at the Party’s annual conference, which has been marred by the prospect of Jewish delegates being heckled and high-profile Jewish figures being offered security.
Although the passage of the vote was welcome, Sir Keir Starmer absurdly responded by tweeting that “This is a decisive and important day in the history of @UKLabour. By implementing the EHRC rule changes, we’ve closed the door on a shameful chapter in our history. And we have taken a major step forward in our efforts to face the public and win the next general election.”
It is apparently lost on the Labour leader that the introduction of a new disciplinary process is only the beginning, as the new process must now actually be implemented, with outstanding and any new allegations of antisemitism investigated and appropriate sanctions applied. Otherwise, this is nothing more than an exercise in public relations. Sir Keir’s suggestion – in the same breadth – that this is merely “a major step forward in our efforts to face the public and win the next general election” is not encouraging. Tackling racism should not be about winning elections but about doing the right thing.
Joe Glasman, Head of Political Investigations at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “We welcome the long overdue overhaul of Labour’s disciplinary process, which is at the heart of the Party’s institutional antisemitism. But the devil will be in the implementation, and we will be watching closely to see whether and how Labour investigates our outstanding complaints against numerous sitting MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner, under the new process. With over a quarter of conference attendees voting against these changes to Labour’s rules, even though they are mandated by the EHRC, this weekend’s vote shows that these changes are not a silver bullet. Labour members, even today, remain bitterly divided over whether or not Jews should be welcome in their Party.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism has lodged a complaint against Jeremy Corbyn, holding him responsible for conduct that is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party, as the Leader during the period of the EHRC’s shameful findings. Given the serious detriment that this conduct has caused, we are seeking Mr Corbyn’s immediate resuspension and, if the complaint is upheld, we will be requesting his expulsion. On the day of the publication of the EHRC’s report, we also submitted a major complaint against Mr Corbyn and other sitting MPs, including Angela Rayner. These complaints are yet to be acknowledged by the Party, and they must be investigated by an independent disciplinary process that the EHRC has demanded and Sir Keir has promised but has yet to introduce.
The Labour Party was found by the EHRC to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
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.