JLM on EHRC report: “There is still much that needs to be done”

Below is the full text of the Jewish Labour Movement’s statement on the EHRC report.

Today’s report provides Jewish Labour members with the relief that they have been seeking from the Labour Party, but which it failed, over five years, to offer.

Since 2015, we have consistently warned the Labour Party about a deepening casual culture of anti-Jewish racism, that saw Jewish Labour members and activists harassed and discriminated against. Instead of listening to our growing concerns over the scale of the challenge, we were told that this racism was imagined, fabricated for factional advantage or intended to silence debate. Today’s report confirms that our voices were marginalised and our members victimised.

As set out in forensic detail by the EHRC, the blame for this sordid, disgraceful chapter in the Labour Party’s history lies firmly with those who held positions of leadership – those who possessed both power and influence to prevent the growth of anti-Jewish racism, but failed to act. What the report shows is that, worse than simply failing to act, the leadership of the Labour Party actively interfered in the processes relating to antisemitism, for political reasons. This failure of leadership amounted to unlawful conduct that facilitated antisemitism to become normalised within the Labour Party, a situation that continues to this day, that must be stopped, and must never happen again.

We take no satisfaction in today’s outcome, or in having had to refer the Labour Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for investigation in 2018. This year marks the centenary of the Jewish Labour Movement’s affiliation to the Labour Party. Throughout the last 100 years, Jewish Labour activists have campaigned to elect Labour governments in the pursuit of peace, justice and equality both in the UK and abroad. Never before in our collective history has the Labour Party so fundamentally strained the ties that have bound the Jewish community to the British Left.

Antisemitism within the Labour Party had serious consequences for many people, causing real emotional pain and despair to those who have given their lives to the Labour Party. As the EHRC points out it undermines confidence in our politics and the fabric of our democracy.

Members have been subjected to persistent levels of abuse that passed criminal thresholds, whilst Jewish women Members of Parliament such as Luciana Berger and Dame Louise Ellman were left little choice but to resign under extreme duress. Jewish Labour members, our friends and allies have far too often faced the perverse insinuation that we have ‘weaponised’ antisemitism by the very same individuals who have perpetrated it against us, with little if inadequate intervention by those who could have stopped it.

It will now be for the Labour Party to set out how they intend to eradicate anti-Jewish racism from our Party. This will in part be achieved by implementing the legally binding actions set out of the EHRC’s report in full and without delay.

These recommendations will ensure that the Party is able to address the longstanding deficiencies in its structure, practice and culture and will have lasting impact in ensuring equality within the Party not just for Jewish members, but all those who have found themselves victims of harassment, discrimination and victimisation within the Party.

In order to truly restore its reputation as the Party of equality, we believe Labour, as well as fully implementing the action plan and recommendations set out in the report, must now set out bold and decisive steps to radically change the culture of our Party.

This will include pushing the Labour Party for a fully independent disciplinary process; preventing casual bullying, intimidation and harassment; implementing a proper education plan for Party members and finally demonstrating strong, moral, decisive leadership. This includes immediate action in relation to those who, even before its publication, are seeking to diminish the EHRC conclusions. Suggesting that complaints of antisemitism are fakes or smears is, as the EHRC points, out an act of antisemitism itself and dealing with such suggestions will be the first test of the leadership of Labour Party’s genuine recognition of the report’s finding.

JLM has never shied away from protecting the rights of our members as part of the fight against racism, and we will continue to hold those responsible accountable for their actions and inactions.

We are hopeful that under new leadership, and renewed resolve, the Party will return to its core values of solidarity, tolerance and respect. There is still much that needs to be done.

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