Labour rejects calls for fully independent system for investigating anti-semitism cases

Posted On: 
22nd July 2019

Labour has ruled out introducing a fully independent process for investigating anti-semitism allegations against party members.

Jewish groups protesting against Labour anti-semitism last year.
Credit: 
PA Images

The party said it would not be "outsourcing" its disciplinary procedures to an outside body, despite calls to do so from senior peers and deputy Labour leader Tom Watson.

However, Jeremy Corbyn has agreed to a plan to "introduce independent oversight" of its existing decision-making processes.

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Meawhile, members of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee will on Tuesday vote on moves to speed up the way the party deals with anti-semitism complaints.

Under plans put forward by Mr Corbyn, the most serious cases would be referred to a special panel made up of Labour general secretary Jennie Formby and senior NEC members, which would have the power to expel them.

The Labour leader said: "Labour is not an anti-semitic party. But one anti-semite is always one too many.

"I also know that some complaints have taken too long to deal with. This is not good enough. Our members don’t want to share their party with anyone who is racist – and they want to be able to demonstrate there is no place for anti-semitism among them."

But Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said the organisation "can't have any cofidence in these new proposals".

He said: "This is just rearranging the deckchairs. The NEC is elected on factional slates on the basis of political patronage. It has an in-built majority for the left which does what the leadership of the party tells it to.

"We know we can't rely on the NEC to make decisions in the interest of Jewish members. It's failed for years to guard against factional and political interference. This group cannot be trusted to exercise good judgement."

Meanwhile, figures produced by the party on Monday revealed that there were anti-semitism complaints against 625 Labour members in the first six months of 2019 - but only eight were expelled.

Mr Katz said: "How is this getting a grip and tackling the problem seriously? 

"Nothing short of a fully independent process, first asked for by the Jewish community way back in April 2018, is even going to begin to suggest that the party leadership really cares about tackling institutional anti-Jewish racism."

In a letter to Mr Corbyn last week, Labour's four most senior Lords said a fully independent complains process was needed in order to ensure "that the Labour party can regain the trust of its members, supporters and the wider public".

But speaking after Mr Corbyn addressed the weekly meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, a source said: "No political party or trade union outsources the entirety of its complaints process."

The comments risk sparking a fresh row with Labour peers, who on Monday put on hold plans to hold a vote of no confidence in Mr Corbyn's leadership.