Although only a few people have written to me about it, I thought I should share my views on the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party which reported recently.
The EHRC was established by the last Labour Government to challenge discrimination, promote equality and protect human rights; values which go to the heart of what we stand for as a Party. I am therefore ashamed that the EHRC found Labour had acted unlawfully, and served an unlawful act notice on the Party.
Their report highlighted “serious failings in the antisemitism complaint handling system”, “significant failings in the way the Labour Party has handled antisemitism” and “serious failings in leadership” – making it clear there was a collective failure without blaming individuals, which Keir Starmer echoed in his press conference.
The EHRC found that there was unlawful harassment through the acts of agents of the Party, and unlawful indirect discrimination (see the full report here). Labour is now legally obliged to draft an action plan to tackle the unlawful act findings and respond to the recommendations to avoid such acts from happening again.
After such a damming report, I think Keir Starmer was right to accept it without qualification and to commit to implement all the recommendations in full on behalf of the Party, and to say that “those who think there’s no problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party … (or) … that it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack … are part of the problem too” (see his full comments here).
We needed a clear and unconditional response to the report and I was therefore disappointed that our former leader said that “the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party”, leaving Labour’s General Secretary with no alternative but to suspend him pending an investigation.
I have met with members of the local Jewish community over the last few years and have been left in no doubt about the hurt that they have felt over Labour’s handling of antisemitism. Accepting the EHRC report and acting on it without equivocation must now be the priority – and is vital in eliminating antisemitism and rebuilding trust in the Labour Party.