In an astonishing intervention, the CEO of the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, has demanded that the Labour Party prove “that it is not a racist party”.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, whose role was established by the Equality Act 2006, is independent of the Government and is responsible for “safeguarding and enforcing the laws that protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect.”
Ms Hilsenrath was responding to a Labour Party Conference fringe event that was advertised in official literature, speakers demanded the right to deny the Holocaust to loud cheering, and called for the Jewish grouping within the Labour Party to be expelled, prompting spontaneous calls of “throw them out”.
In a statement, Ms Hilsenrath said: “Antisemitism is racism and the Labour party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party. A zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism should mean just that. When senior party figures are saying there’s a problem, then the leadership should take swift action. It is simply not acceptable to say they oppose these views. These comments by party members show more needs to be done to root out antisemitic views that clearly exist in the party. Any suggestion of kicking people out of any political party on the grounds of race or religion should be condemned.”
In a separate development, the leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, Labour Councillor Warren Morgan, has also demanded proof that the his own Party can be trusted not to be antisemitic, otherwise the Council will ban the Labour Party Conference from being held at its convention centre again in the future. Writing to the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Iain McNicol, Councillor Morgan demanded: “I will need reassurances that there will be no repeat of the behaviour and actions we have seen this week before any further bookings from the Party are taken.”