New antisemitism data shows Labour is taking “decisive action”, says party

Sienna Rodgers

Labour has released fresh statistics on its handling of disciplinary cases linked to antisemitism – and declared that the newly published data shows the party is “taking more decisive action than ever before”.

The report offers a detailed breakdown of how Labour members facing accusations related to antisemitism have been dealt with by the party – suspended, issued with a notice of investigation, auto-excluded or otherwise.

It reveals that 45 members were expelled from the party last year, compared to just ten in 2018 and one in 2017, which Labour has attributed to the reforms introduced by general secretary Jennie Formby.

The party says Formby replaced “slow, outdated procedures” – whereby “few cases were reviewed by committees and fewer at NCC hearings” – with a speedier process, including new expulsion powers awarded to the ruling body.

Labour’s national constitutional committee (NCC) used to be the only body able to expel members, until Jeremy Corbyn put forward a new rule in July 2019 that empowered the national executive committee (NEC).

The process favoured by the Labour leader referred the “most serious” cases of antisemitism to special panels consisting of Formby and NEC officers, rather than the usual panels made up of ordinary NEC members.

Labour has vowed to continue its publication of detailed reports in an effort to boost transparency and make it easier for outsider to track progress, allowing further scrutiny.

According to the Labour report, its data provides evidence of the following:

  • “The Labour Party expelled 45 members in relation to antisemitism in 2019, compared to ten in 2018 and one in 2017.
  • “After rule changes passed at conference in September 2019 gave NEC panels the power to expel, twice the number of people were expelled in two months than had been expelled during the whole of 2018.
  • “NEC disciplinary panels heard 274 cases relating to antisemitism in 2019, a tenfold increase on the 28 cases heard in 2017.
  • “In 2019, 149 members were removed from the party as a result of disciplinary processes relating to antisemitism, either being expelled or quitting the party as proceedings progressed.
  • “The Labour Party suspended 296 members in relation to antisemitism in 2019, compared to 98 in 2018 – itself a big increase on the previous year.”

Commenting on the report, a Labour spokesperson said: “Antisemitism has no place in the Labour Party and this report demonstrates that we are taking more decisive action than ever before, and more than any other political party, to root out this bigotry and racism.

“The reforms made by Jennie Formby as general secretary have led to a significant increase in suspensions and expulsions. And under the new rapid expulsion powers proposed by Jeremy Corbyn, we have expelled twice the number of people for antisemitism in just two months than the whole of 2018.

“We know there is much more work to do and we will continue to publish regular updates on our progress. Labour is the only political party that publishes statistics on disciplinary cases and we challenge other political parties to match our commitment to transparency.”

Responding to the report, the party-affiliated Jewish Labour Movement remarked that Labour “should not be allowed to judge its own processes”.

Labour has been urged by groups including JLM to create an independent complaints system that would see a separate body process all disciplinary cases related to antisemitism.

While party insiders have questioned whether “outsourcing” the system would be practical, all four main leadership candidates have signed up to the Board of Deputies’ ten pledges, which include the commitment.

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