Tom Watson leads calls for independent investigations into racism by Labour members

Posted On: 
16th July 2019

Allegations of racism and other forms of bigotry by Labour members would be investigated by an independent body under plans drawn up by Tom Watson and other party officials.

Tom Watson has called for a fully independent process for dealing with complaints against Labour members.
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A motion in the name of Labour's deputy leader and four other members of the party's ruling National Executive Committee also calls for activists to be automatically expelled "where there is irrefutable evidence of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia or transphobia".

Their demands will be debated and voted on at a crunch meeting of the NEC next Tuesday.

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Mr Watson's move came as Jeremy Corbyn spoke of his "profound concerns about the scourge of anti-semitism and what the issue is doing to our Labour family".

Civil war has erupted in the party in the wake of a Panorama programme last week which accused Mr Corbyn's closest aides of interfering in anti-semitism complaints against Labour members.

The motion tabled by Mr Watson and the other NEC members says: "The NEC believes the Labour Party is an anti-racist party committed to equality and building a better, fairer future for all.

"We are fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and implacably opposed to anti-Jewish racism and racism in any form.

"Members who express racist, sexist, homophobic or transphobic views have no place in the Labour Party.

"We need radical change and fresh thinking in our disciplinary rules to swiftly and fairly root out the evils of racism in our party and restore confidence in our processes."

It adds: "The NEC therefore resolves to bring forward rule changes to this year’s conference that: automatically excludes a member from the party where there is irrefutable evidence of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia or transphobia; establishes an independent process to deal with disciplinary matters involving all forms of racism, sexism, misogyny, homophobia or transphobia."

The motion is a clear challenge by Mr Watson to supporters of the Labour leader, who has so far resisted calls for the party to have an independent complaints process.

It echoes calls made by senior Labour peers in a letter to Mr Corbyn on Monday.

In his response, the Labour boss said: "I know that anti-semitism is a cause of great fear and sadness, not just to the Jewish community but to the overwhelming majority of our members, for whom combatting all forms of hatred and prejudice is indivisible from the politics of achieving greater equality, peace and justice in the world."

However, he said he did not want their suggestions to "impede or pre-empt" the Equality and Human Rights Commission's investigation into allegations that Labour discriminates against Jewish people.