Since Jeremy Corbyn announced that his party had commissioned an independent inquiry into antisemitism on Friday, we have been speaking to the media about our misgivings. The inquiry has been nobbled at the outset, and there are four reasons why.
Firstly, the inquiry’s scope only covers the rules in future cases of antisemitism. It will not examine existing cases that remain unaddressed, such as the case of Sir Gerald Kaufman.
Secondly, the Labour Party’s antisemitism problem is not so acute because the rules were too lax; it is acute because the Party’s leadership and structures have failed to identify antisemitism and condemn it. The inquiry should examine the conduct of the Party’s leadership, but it will not.
Thirdly, the Vice Chair of the inquiry is Professor David Feldman, who has already dismissed claims of antisemitism in the Party as “baseless” and “politically motivated” in an open letter. It is ludicrous to appoint as judge and jury someone who has already made up his mind in opposition to the vast majority of British Jews.
Fourthly, the inquiry seeks to concoct its own definition of antisemitism. There is already a definition that is used by the Government, the College of Policing, and even foreign institutions like the EU Parliament and the US Department of State. The definition is called the EUMC definition and it covers precisely the kind of antisemitism that has evaded Labour’s immune system: antisemitism disguised as political discourse. The EUMC definition is not up for debate, but we know that the inquiry will not adopt it because Professor Feldman has argued for its abolition every time he has been given the opportunity.
This broken inquiry is not the answer to Labour’s antisemitism problem.