Labour’s backlog of antisemitism cases is being cleared, says NEC member

Sienna Rodgers

Labour has processed more antisemitism disciplinary cases over the last three months than in any of the past three years, according to Gurinder Singh Josan, a member of the party’s national executive committee.

The local party representative, who was elected in NEC by-elections earlier this year that saw members choose three Corbynsceptics for the body, used social media to update members on Labour’s complaints system.

The message, posted on Sunday evening, read: “Since April, NEC disputes sub-panels have met in most weeks to deal with cases of complaints involving a protected characteristic.”

Josan specified that these panels cover all kinds of racism, homophobia, sexism, harassment and bullying, but that “over 90%” of the complaints he has seen since his election have related to antisemitism.

The letter continued: “The panels have met more times and dealt with more cases in three months than in any of the previous three years. The panels have in three months determined more antisemitism cases than in any of the previous three years.

“The backlog of antisemitism cases is now being systematically reduced. New complaints are being investigated by party staff promptly and cases are not being brought before panels within a few weeks to be determined.”

Josan, who says he has “volunteered and sat on most of the panels” over the last three months, and heard over 200 cases, concluded: “There has been a real change in tackling antisemitism in the Labour Party.”

His post encouraged Jewish members who left the party under Jeremy Corbyn to rejoin, saying: “I promise you the Labour Party is under new management. It is safe to come home.”

In Labour’s disciplinary process, NEC members are asked to volunteer to sit on disputes sub-panels, which usually take place on weekdays and comprise up to five NEC members. They are presented with reports by party staff following investigations.

Panels are now being conducted online due to the pandemic, which makes it easier for NEC members to attend. But they are still required to commit to sessions of three hours each, sometimes two in a day.

Asked by LabourList for his thoughts on why many more antisemitism cases were being processed, Josan said: “I think leadership matters. Not just Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, but staff leadership as well… The thing that’s changed is leadership.”

Since April, the party has seen a new leadership elected, three new NEC members, a change in the governance and legal unit with the departure of Thomas Gardiner, and a new general secretary appointed.

Alex Barros-Curtis, who worked on Starmer’s leadership campaign, is now executive director of legal affairs, while David Evans has replaced Jennie Formby as Labour’s most senior official.

Josan told LabourList: “The values of the party are clear. We are a party against racism, bigotry and hatred of any kind. NEC members will deal very strongly with any cases that come before us and have given strong sanctions for anti-Black racism, Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism, as well as antisemitism.”

Update, August 25th: In response to Josan’s comments, fellow NEC member Jon Lansman tweeted that they were “misleading” as Labour under Jennie Formby said panels heard almost 300 antisemitism cases in 2019.

Lansman said: “Recent progress is excellent. But weekly panels were proposed not by the NEC, Keir or his staff but by staff in Governance & Legal Unit, who pre-date Keir’s leadership & have been driving through major improvements over the last year with extra staff added under Jennie Formby.

“Gurinder shouldn’t take credit for the work of Labour Party staff. He should be praising staff and letting members know how hard they’ve been working, rather than trying to hijack these improvements for his own personal benefit to win votes in the NEC election”.

Josan replied that there have been more expulsions over the course of the last four months than in 2019 and that there were 300 cases considered in 2019 but “I’ve been on panels in over 200 cases [in four months]”.

Also commenting on Josan’s post, soft left NEC member Alice Perry tweeted: “The Labour NEC Disciplinary panels are meeting for full days twice a week to clear the backlog of complaints.

“The panels I’ve attended work really well. From my experience the new process for referring or resolving cases is quick, fair and non-factional.”

The Labour Party did not respond when contacted for comment.

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