Labour must “be seen to be taking action” on antisemitism, says Duffield

Elliot Chappell

Labour MP Rosie Duffield has said the party needs to be “seen to be taking action – not just talking” on antisemitism and commented that she suspects the investigation into the party may find Labour “institutionally racist”.

Appearing on ITV’s Peston this evening, the Labour MP for Canterbury discussed the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into antisemitism within the Labour Party, which will be published tomorrow.

Asked about what to expect the impending report to say about the party, Duffield told viewers that she did not think the outcome of the organisation’s investigation into the party is “going to be a huge shock”.

On whether the EHRC will find Labour institutionally racist, she said: “I suspect they might, actually. And it is very shameful and we need to do something about it quickly. Keir’s already taken action since he’s become the leader, which is great to see.

“And people like me who were kind of very, very vocal and concerned about it have been just thrilled that we’ve got this change already taking place. But it has to happen fast and we have to be seen to be taking action – not just talking.”

On whether the party recognises what needs to be done now: “It does feel like that… If I felt differently I would be speaking out still and I came under a lot of flack from certain factions of the party for doing so but it was the right thing to do.

“And we did try very hard under the last leader to get it taken seriously but we do, most of us who were speaking out, do feel that Keir really is taking a lead on this.”

In a Times Radio interview earlier today, Ed Balls described the failure to deal with antisemitism within the Labour Party as a “tragedy and a disaster” ahead of the expected publication of the report.

The former Shadow Chancellor told listeners this afternoon that he does not think Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite but believes the former Labour leader “stood with antisemitic people” and “said things which were antisemitic”.

Karie Murphy argued earlier this week, in anticipation of the release of the EHRC report, that she is “proud” of the party’s record on dealing with antisemitism complaints under Corbyn’s leadership.

She wrote in The Guardian on Monday: “I want to set the record straight. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemites were removed from the Labour Party more quickly, transparently and effectively than ever before.”

The chief of staff to the former Labour leader between 2016 and 2020 said that Corbyn had asked her to “improve the process, get antisemites out of our party and begin to rebuild trust with Jewish communities”.

She added: “Could more have been done earlier? Yes, of course. But what was done – including changes to the party’s rules and instituting detailed guidance on antisemitism for an expanded complaints team – unquestionably made it easier and swifter to remove antisemites from the party.”

The EHRC sent a draft report of its investigation into allegations of institutional antisemitism within the Labour Party in July this year. The final report is set to be published on Thursday at 10am.

The draft was sent to Labour to review as part of the process. The party issued a statement at the time explaining that it would not comment on the contents of the draft report until the EHRC’s investigative process is completed.

Duffield was elected to parliament in 2017, winning the Canterbury seat for Labour for the first time since the constituency was created in 1918. She was appointed as a whip by Keir Starmer in mid-April but resigned in May after breaking lockdown rules.

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