All of the recommendations of the Forde report have either been completed or considered but not progressed, according to a document provided to Labour’s national executive committee at its November meeting.
The document, seen by LabourList, states that 154 of the 165 recommendations set out in the Forde report – which investigated allegations of bullying, racism, sexism and factionalism made in an internal party document leaked in 2020 – have now been completed, with the remaining 11 considered but not progressed.
The document states that it “updates the NEC on the final implementation of the recommendations” and particularly on progress made since July 2023, when the NEC was informed that 97 of the recommendations were completed and 57 still underway.
The Forde report, which was published last year, concluded that there were “serious problems of discrimination in the operations of the party”.
‘This is major progress and a contrast to other parties’
One NEC source said: “There is still more work to do, particularly on looking at how culture feeds into representation – how do we remove those barriers, and racism is a big one.
“But this is major progress for the party to get to this position and have not just ticked off the Forde report recommendations, but more importantly listened to members who have been complaining about this.
“The training we’ve been developing particularly around anti-Black racism has been in conjunction with lots of stakeholders, from unions to councillors who have experienced distasteful remarks and events.
“So there’s lots done but more to do. It’s encouraging we’re here and a clear contrast to where other political parties are. It’s a really good moment for the party.”
Some of the recommendations not progressed include changes to the complaints process that LabourList understands party officials believed to be incompatible with processes introduced in the wake of the separate Equality and Human Rights Commission report on Labour.
Party previously accused of being ‘slow’
Speaking to Channel 4 News in May, Martin Forde KC, who led the inquiry, said progress following the report had been “slow”, adding that he is “keeping a kind of wary eye on what is and isn’t done”.
The broadcaster reported at the time that it had seen a letter drafted by Black Labour MPs demanding “urgent action” from the leadership on anti-Black racism and the implementation of the recommendations set out in the report.
According to Channel 4 News, the letter stated: “Despite our party’s claims to be anti-racist… we, our members and supporters are losing faith in the ability and commitment of this leadership to tackle the issues raised in the Forde report.”
The Labour Party said in a statement to the broadcaster that it was “fully committed to tackling racist and discriminatory attitudes wherever they arise”, adding that it had “implemented the bulk of the recommendations”, with “the delivery of further recommendations… underway”.
Labour providing training in Afrophobia and anti-Black racism
The document provided to the NEC at its latest meeting outlines the “considerable activity” that has been underway on the report’s remaining recommendations since July, including on the development of an “Afrophobia and anti-Black training package”.
It states that the development of the package is “well underway”, with the training expected to start being rolled out in early 2024 for audiences of party staff, NEC members and Labour MPs, peers, MSPs, Senedd members, local government mayors and councillors, as well as members.
The document also reveals that a new code of conduct for staff and staff social media policy have been developed and will be implemented following a “formal consultation” with staff trade unions, which has now commenced.
Labour: ‘These are issues we continue to prioritise’
Labour did not respond when approached for comment earlier this week, but a party spokesman told LabourList and other journalists in parliament today the NEC had been “implementing the Forde report”, and “taken on the vast bulk of the recommendations”.
“We continue to take the issues that the Forde report highlighted that had happened under the previous leadership very seriously. We’ve had a lot of party staff and NEC capacity on going through the recommendations in detail, ensuring that we deliver on the recommendations that are in there.
“We remain committed to tackling those issues that occurred under the previous leadership.”
Asked if it marked “job done”, they added that “you wouldn’t want to say it’s ever done. “These are issues that we continue to prioritise as a party and ensure we are continuing to operate at all levels in the best possible way.”
But a spokesperson for campaign group Compass claimed “factional” behaviour within the party such as blocking left-wing candidates showed its structure and culture was still in “desperate need of reform”.
Compass director Neal Lawson, who recently faced potential expulsion, warned the party must not become a “narrow clique”, adding: “Labour may have made some limited progress, but there is still a great deal to be done, and change must come from the top.”