Today, Campaign Against Antisemitism has written to Sir Keir Starmer welcoming a report that he intends to treat the report of the statutory investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into antisemitism in the Labour Party as “a help rather than a distraction”.
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
However, we have also voiced our concern to Sir Keir that he has taken no action against Jeremy Corbyn, who has recently claimed that the EHRC is in fact not independent but a “part of the Government machine”. Mr Corbyn’s assertion is a conspiracy theory, and it is clearly one that he is intent on promoting because he used his first interview since standing down to do so.
Whilst we welcomed suspensions and expulsions under Sir Keir’s leadership, we also asked Sir Keir to announce a timetable for the reformation of Labour’s corrupted disciplinary process. Additionally, we asked him to take action against various senior Labour figures who had shared a platform with activists expelled from the Party over antisemitism — Sir Keir had pledged to suspend any member of the Party who did so.
Finally, we noted our considerable concern that Sir Keir has still not responded to our letter of 4th May, nor engaged with us in any way as the complainant in the EHRC’s statutory investigation.
Last year, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that vast numbers of British Jews had considered leaving the country over antisemitism in politics and that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we hold all political parties to account.
Today we have written to Sir @Keir_Starmer calling on him to announce a timetable for reforming @UKLabour’s corrupted disciplinary process and to take action against recent offenders including @JeremyCorbyn, @HackneyAbbott, @BellRibeiroAddy and @SalmaYaqoob. pic.twitter.com/mWwM0drGWz
— Campaign Against Antisemitism (@antisemitism) June 18, 2020
Full text of the letter
Dear Sir Keir,
We were pleased to read a report today in the Jewish Chronicle that you intend to treat the report of the statutory investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into antisemitism in the Labour Party as “a help rather than a distraction”.
As the complainant in the EHRC’s investigation, we referred the Party to the EHRC because we are keen to ensure that the Party is purged of antisemites and those who defend and enable them, so that Labour can return to being what it once was: a fiercely anti-racist force in British public life.
Since you appear to have decided to back the EHRC’s investigation, we would like to ask you to take action over the claim by your MP, Jeremy Corbyn, in the fringe blog, Middle East Eye, that the EHRC, whose investigation will be so crucial to the future of the Labour Party, is in fact not independent but a “part of the Government machine”.
Mr Corbyn’s remark is a conspiracy theory, and it is clearly one that he is intent on promoting because he used his first interview since standing down to do so. The EHRC is, as you are aware, a legal body, created by a Labour Government, whose vital function is to protect the country from racism. On the grounds of this conspiracy theory alone, Mr Corbyn should be subjected to a disciplinary investigation by the Party.
Indeed, there are many grounds for disciplining Mr Corbyn, which we have documented in complaints to Labour for the past four years. It is high time that they are investigated, not least because he has engaged in behaviour for which others have been recently expelled.
Whilst we welcome the suspensions and expulsions of antisemites under your leadership, we note that despite us having pointed out the lamentable record of Afzal Khan MP in relation to antisemitism, he remains in post as Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons. His appointment has sent an unmistakable signal that public dissemination of antisemitism is not a bar to high office under your leadership.
Along with Mr Corbyn and Mr Khan, there are numerous Labour MPs and office holders who must be investigated under a fair, transparent and efficient disciplinary process, including Diane Abbott MP, Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP and Salma Yaqoob, who have shared a platform with those expelled from the Party over allegations of antisemitism. You had pledged to suspend any member who shared platforms with such people.
However, we are disappointed that we are still waiting for you to respond to our letter of 4th May, sent to you on the one-month anniversary of your election as leader of the Labour Party, in which we sought your commitment to:
- Announce a timetable for reforming Labour’s corrupted disciplinary process;
- Honour your pledge on platform-sharing by suspending Ms Abbott, Ms Ribeiro-Addy and Ms Yaqoob; and
- Remove Mr Khan from the position of Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons to which you promoted him.
We have praised your declared intention to “tear this poison [of antisemitism] out by its roots” but we believe that if you leave Mr Khan in his position and permit senior Party figures to go unpunished, including Mr Corbyn, Ms Abbott, Ms Ribeiro-Addy and Ms Yaqoob, you will send a clear message to others in the Party that such behaviour will go unpunished.
It is also of considerable concern to us that you have yet to engage with us as complainant in the EHRC’s statutory investigation, and that you have yet to even set out a timetable for introducing an overhauled disciplinary process. We look forward to hearing from you.
Head of Political and Government Investigations