Pushback after Labour Party’s General Secretary warns local CLPs not to discuss EHRC investigation, settlement with Panorama whistleblowers or International Definition of Antisemitism
Several officeholders in Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) around the country have expressed their opposition to a call by the Party’s General-Secretary to local branches not to discuss sensitive issues, including several related to antisemitism.
David Evans sent an email to the chairs and secretaries of CLPs with guidelines for how their online meetings should be conducted in order to avoid bringing the Party “locally and nationally or its officers open to potential legal liabilities.”
The email began by covering matters relating to nominations to Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee, but the other three issues addressed related to antisemitism.
First, Mr Evans noted that Labour had agreed a settlement with the Panorama whistleblowers, which included a full apology, and advised that “the withdrawal [of the allegations] and apology are binding on the party and any motions which seek to undermine or contradict them will create a risk of further legal proceedings for both the national party and local parties. As such, motions relating to these settlements and the circumstances behind them are not competent business for discussion by local parties.”
Second, Mr Evans noted that the Party announced that it had received the draft report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and said: “When we are able to provide more information about the EHRC’s report we will do so. Until that time speculation as to the contents of the report is not helpful. It is therefore not competent business for CLPs to discuss.”
The EHRC launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party in May 2019 following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Third, Mr Evans observed that “some CLPs and branches have had motions tabled to ‘repudiate’ the…[International] Definition of Antisemitism [which] was properly adopted by the Labour Party in September 2018. CLPs and branches have no powers to overturn this decision. Furthermore, such motions undermine the Labour Party’s ability to tackle racism. Any such motions are therefore not competent business for CLPs or branches.”
Among the CLPs tabling such motions is Islington North, which is Jeremy Corbyn’s CLP.
Mr Evans added that “as per the previous general secretary’s instruction, any discussion about ongoing disciplinary cases remains prohibited.”
However, Mr Evans’ email has received pushback, with some saying the decisions were made “without accountability” and others describing the demands as “authoritarian”.
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.