Labour has gone backwards in the fight against antisemitism. Enough is enough

Margaret Hodge

On May 14th, Jon Lansman wrote a piece for LabourList on the apparent progress made in the fight against antisemitism within the Labour Party. I found his account to be woefully inaccurate.

His support for Laura Murray’s appointment as head of complaints is entirely misplaced. Her appointment took place after the post had been advertised for just three days – hardly the hallmark of an open and genuine recruitment process. Particularly when the successful candidate is the daughter of Andrew Murray, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s most senior advisors. This fills me with no confidence that the complaints process is fair or independent of political interference.

It is deeply troubling that Jon is happy to pass the blame for Corbyn’s failure to fight antisemitism to party workers who loyally served the party for years before Corbyn arrived on the scene.

Instead of trading in anecdotes, it is important to look at the facts. The Sunday Times exposé in April confirmed that there are hundreds of cases that have gone unaddressed by the party. Similarly, the Jewish Labour Movement has had countless complaints left unresolved. No wonder they sent a 1,000-page submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. I alone submitted approximately 200 complaints last year and have not heard directly from the party since.

I have spent the past week in contact with the general secretary and Corbyn’s chief of staff, calling out glaring flaws in the new complaints process. This does little to reassure members their complaints are taken seriously. The system has been broken for years now.

For far too long, the hard left has ignored the antisemitism crisis engulfing the Labour Party and attacked those brave enough to call it out. Every day I receive antisemitic and misogynistic abuse from hard left accounts on social media. At a local level, hard left members have often fuelled and engaged in the toxic antisemitism and bullying that is now commonplace.  

It is categorically untrue to suggest that the leader’s office did not intervene in the complaints process. The Sunday Times has shown countless examples of political interference. Seamus Milne, Andrew Murray and others have regularly watered-down disciplinary action even when there is evidence of blatant antisemitism. Corbyn gave me assurances that this was not the case as recently as February. The evidence from the whistle-blowers shows that either Corbyn lied to me or his staff are lying to him. Both are totally unacceptable.

Jon defends party staff in the complaints team as hard-working and independent. This is another point I find difficult to swallow. It appears that Laura Murray as head of complaints and Thomas Gardiner as the governance and legal unit chief are political appointments, put in place to protect Corbyn from further embarrassment. Both are on the record as making the wrong call when disciplining antisemitic members.

Jon’s call for more time to deal with the antisemitism crisis is simply not good enough. The party has failed again and again to be proactive on the issue. No duty of care has been shown to Jewish members, councillors or MPs facing antisemitic attacks. The relationship between the party leadership and Jewish community groups is at rock bottom and there has been a complete breakdown in trust.

Corbyn’s inner circle have repeatedly declined to work with the Jewish Labour Movement and they have since been pushed to the brink of disaffiliation. The leadership has not implemented any of JLM’s recommendations for reform – namely JLM antisemitism training at a local level or an independent complaints process that all members can trust.

Jeremy Corbyn has been the leader of the Labour Party for almost four years. In that time, the party has gone backwards in the fight against antisemitism and Jew-hate has become the acceptable face of racism on the left. Under Corbyn, antisemitism has moved from the fringes of the Labour Party to the mainstream.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is considering a full statutory investigation against the Labour Party for institutional and widespread antisemitism. If investigated, we could join the fascist British National Party as the only other political party found guilty of tolerating racism.  

Corbyn has had plenty of time to “get to grips with this problem”, Jon. He and the rest of the leadership have failed spectacularly. Enough is enough. 

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