Leaked report “causing immense stress”, says GMB Labour staff branch

Elliot Chappell

The GMB Labour Party staff branch has slammed the leaked internal review and said that it is “causing immense stress” for the workers named and a “deep sense of mistrust towards their employer”.

In a statement released today, the organisation thanked Keir Starmer  for “acting swiftly”, and expressed concerns over the content of the internal review and the way in which it was made public over the weekend.

The branch stated that it is “worrying that the report contains transcripts of private conversations between staff”, and said that the alleged comments are “not being seen within context” and are being “flatly denied”.

The statement follows the leaking of a report into antisemitism in the party over the weekend, which described alleged mishandling of disciplinary cases and attempts by members of staff to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.

Following the release of this 851-page document, Starmer committed to an “urgent independent investigation” into the background, the content and the way in which the report has been released into the public domain.

The Labour leader has not said whether he is prepared to expel members that are found to have undermined his predecessor, saying: “I’ll obviously look at the result when we get it. But I am not going to preempt that.”

Below is the full statement released today by the GMB Labour Party staff branch.

GMB Labour Party staff branch welcomes the statement from Labour Party leader Keir Starmer and Deputy Leader Angela Rayner, committing to commissioning an urgent independent investigation into the recent leaked internal report into the work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism.

The branch also welcomes and agrees with the three areas which the investigation will focus on, namely:

  1. The background and circumstances in which the report was commissioned and the process involved.
  2. The contents and wider culture and practices referred to in the report.
  3. The circumstances in which the report was put into the public domain.

We believe the independence of this investigation is absolutely critical, and we thank the Leader and Deputy Leader for acting swiftly to commission it. We will also be requesting a meeting between GMB representatives and the leadership team at the earliest convenience to discuss the matter prior to the commencement of the investigation.

We would urge any internal investigation to support and complement this independent investigation rather than competing against it.

We are deeply concerned with the report, and the means by which it was commissioned, created, and made public. It is also disappointing that much of the report diverts from the scope of its declared intention, which was to look into the Labour Party’s response to antisemitism. It is also extremely worrying that the report contains transcripts of private conversations between staff on private accounts, using personal equipment.

We agree some of the selected comments attributed to senior staff are absolutely indefensible, it is worth noting that they are not being seen within context and some comments attributed are being flatly denied.

It is also unacceptable that staff members across all levels have had their private communication accessed and their names leaked publicly. The Labour Party would rightly not accept this level of surveillance and intrusion into private conversations of staff in any other workplace, and we believe it therefore should never countenance such practices in the party – let alone authorise them.

This is causing immense stress for those workers, as well as colleagues who are not named but now feel a deep sense of mistrust toward their employer, and the GMB is available to provide support for any of those staff members that require it.

The report has led to a number of people publicly questioning the commitment of Labour Party staff. As a branch, we condemn these suggestions in the strongest terms and would encourage elected representatives and senior figures within the party to behave with restraint when engaging on social media. We consider the mental and physical wellbeing of our members who have no right of reply to be of the utmost importance at this time.

Labour Party staff work extremely hard to deliver a functioning, campaign-ready organisation, and, particularly during elections, give way over and above what is expected of them to help Labour win. Staff regularly put their lives on hold to work for the party, sacrifice time with their families and friends, and push their mental and physical wellbeing to the limit.

They do this work regardless of the politicians they are working directly with and for, and regardless of who leads the party at any given time, because they are dedicated to Labour winning elections and creating a fairer, more just society.

None of them would want to be embroiled in this internal argument during a time like this, when other very serious matters are occupying everyone’s thoughts – indeed, many of them will be working hard in their communities to help with the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

We await the authoritative outcomes of the independent investigation, and hope that people refrain from drawing their own conclusions until it is concluded, and also refrain from attacks, in public and in private, against staff members.

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