Exclusive: Local parties warned by Labour not to reject EHRC report

Constituency Labour Parties have been warned by Labour’s general secretary David Evans not to “question the competence” of the Equality and Human Rights Commission or reject its report, LabourList can reveal.

The report on Labour antisemitism has been published today following a formal investigation into the party that started in May 2019. It has found that there were “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination”.

The EHRC has issued an unlawful act notice, due to political interference in antisemitism complaints by Jeremy Corbyn’s office, a failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints and harassment.

The equalities body, which was set up under a Labour government, identified “serious failings in leadership” and “an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints”. Labour must present an action plan within six weeks.

In response to the publication of the report, general secretary David Evans – who was appointed under Keir Starmer’s leadership – has sent an email and briefing to local party chairs and secretaries.

Evans has written: “We accept the Commission’s report in full and we will implement all of the recommendations in full. But, we must go further. We need to change the Labour Party’s culture, and that must start straight away.”

He has also told CLPs that their social media accounts must not be used to comment on the investigation or the report, and accounts where comments or discussion is usually allowed they should be “closely moderated” or access “temporarily suspended”.

The general secretary has warned that motions seeking to “question the competence of the EHRC to conduct the investigation” or to “repudiate or reject the report or any of its recommendations” are “not competent business”.

The advice of the top official that local party executives must ensure that such motions are “ruled out of order” reflects the advice given in August that they should not accept motions on a number of specified topics related to antisemitism.

Evans told local parties over the summer that they should not allow motions relating to the Panorama settlement or the EHRC report, nor should they “repudiate” the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

In his fresh advice, Evans explained: “This is because the NEC has a responsibility under Labour Party rule to ensure that the party meets its legal responsibilities, which includes responding accordingly to the EHRC’s statutory investigation.”

The general secretary has also added that motions that can be “adversarial” and may not be “conducive to constructive and inclusive debate”, and as a result local parties could “take a less formal approach”.

Evans has suggested that local parties instead “consider open questions”, “possibly in a breakout group format”, such as the following examples:

  • What can our branch/CLP do to help rebuild relationships with the Jewish community?
  • What do we need to learn and how do we need to develop as individuals and as a branch/CLP to help make us better allies to under-represented groups?
  • How can our branch/CLP enshrine equality into everything we do?
  • In the context of building a welcoming and inclusive culture, what does our branch/CLP do well already, and what could we be better at?
  • How can our branch/CLP contribute to building a more inclusive Labour Party and what do we need from the Labour Party regionally and nationally to help us do that?

The party now led by Keir Starmer has until December 10th to draft an action plan to implement the recommendations of the EHRC, and this plan is legally enforceable by the court if not fulfilled.

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