GMB union warns Labour Party bosses not to 'victimise' anti-semitism whistleblowers

Posted On: 
5th December 2019

One of Labour's biggest trade union backers has warned the party not to "victimise" members of staff who have given evidence to a probe into how it handles allegations of anti-semitism in its ranks.

The GMB wrote to Jennie Formby demanding that Labour staff should not be victimised.
Credit: 
PA Images

A senior GMB official wrote to Jennie Formby, Labour's general secretary, following the leak of a dossier accusing the party of failing to tackle anti-Jewish racism by members.

The 53-page document has been drawn up by the Jewish Labour Movement and submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's inquiry into claims the party is institutionally anti-semitic.

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Seventy present and former members of Labour staff gave evidence to lawyers acting on behalf of the JLM, with some accusing the party leadership of trying to cover up the extent of the problem.

In the email to Ms Formby, the GMB official said "it is extremely likely that individuals who have made submissions could be identified" from the dossier.

He added: "Can I remind you that these people are protected under the whistleblowing legislation and any attempt by their employer, the Labour Party, to victimize them for making such a submission will be treated with the utmost seriousness by the GMB.

"I would welcome your assurance ... that this will not be the case."

Sam Matthews, who quit as head of Labour's governance and legal unit, which investigates disciplinary cases, over the way the party handled anti-semitism by members, praised those who had given evidence to the JLM.

Speaking at a press conference in London, he said: "The whistleblowers who have come forward are demonstrating the truest of Labour's historic values and should be commended for their bravery in speaking out. I am proud to have worked with and alongside them.

"We're now in a position where the GMB union, representing most Labour Party staff, is having to write to the general secretary of the Labour Party to state in the strongest terms that any intimidation or victimisation of whistleblowers will not be tolerated and the union will rightly stand up for its members."

The Labour party has been approached for comment.

DAMNING

The JLM dossier includes claims that staff were told to pass allegations of anti-Jewish racism by party members to Jeremy Corbyn's office, despite the party's insistence that they were not involved in the process.

There are also allegations that at various Labour branch meetings, members have been called "a Tory Jew", "Zio scum", and told "to shut the f*** up Jew" and that "that Hitler was right".

The JLM submission says: "The Labour Party is no longer a safe space for Jewish people or for those who stand up against anti-semitism. That is the disturbing but inevitable conclusion from the evidence that JLM has put before the Commission over the course of the past 13 months."

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: "These allegations are a damning indictment of how toxic things have become and the leadership’s complete failure to tackle the Jew hatred that has infested a party once known for its longstanding commitment to fighting racism."

A Labour spokesperson said: "The Labour Party is not institutionally anti-semitic and complaints relate to a small minority of our members.

"We are the only political party that has published figures on cases of anti-semitism, and we regularly account for the work we are doing to tackle it.

"We have significantly reformed our procedures over the past year, including recently adopting a proposal by Jeremy Corbyn for rapid expulsions, which allows individuals to be expelled within a matter of weeks in open and shut cases."