Labour hit by new anti-Semitism row over Royall report

Posted On: 
18th May 2016

Labour was hit by a fresh anti-Semitism row today after the author of a report into the extent of the problem said she was "disappointed and frustrated" it had not been published in full.

Baroness Royall is 'frustrated' at the way her report was presented
PA Images

Baroness Royall made her feelings clear in a blogpost for the Jewish Labour Movement shortly after the executive summary of her findings went online.

The highly-respected peer was asked by the party in February to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism by members of the Oxford University Labour Club.

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Some members of the club were accused of harassing Jewish students. Its co-chairman, Alex Chalmers also resigned after claiming that some of its members had "some kind of problem with Jews".

In her findings, published yesterday, she said there was no no evidence of "institutional anti-Semitism" at the club. She also recommended that Labour members found guilty of anti-Semitism should not face an automatic life ban from the party.

But in the blogpost published last night, Baroness Royall said: "I know that you will share my disappointment and frustration that the main headline coming out of my inquiry is that there is no institutional Antisemitism in Oxford University Labour Club.

“That is true, but it is only part of the story.  I am clear that in the OULC there is a cultural problem which means that Jewish students do not always feel welcome.  And we have to take action to change this situation.

“Many students reported that should a Jewish student preface a remark 'as a Jew …' they are likely to face ridicule and behaviour that would not be acceptable for someone saying 'as a woman …' or 'as an Afro-Caribbean'.  This should not be tolerated.  

“There is sometimes an environment in which Jews cannot debate, or feel safe to do so, unless their every remark is prefaced by criticism of the Israeli government.  Yet no preconditions are placed on women debating sexism.  It is not a prerequisite that Muslims condemn the atrocities of this or that government before they may enter a debate on foreign policy.  These double standards are not acceptable.”

Elsewhere in the blog, she wrote: “On other occasions anti-Semitism is used as a factional political tool and clearly this is inexcusable.  

“Our Party must be a place where, despite robust discussion and vigorous disagreements, Jews and people of all ethnic backgrounds feel able to express their views.  

A senior Labour source denied the party's ruling National Executive Committee, which discussed the Royall report yesterday, agreed that most of it should remain under wraps.

The source said: "It is wrong to suggest this report has been suppressed or edited. This report was Jan Royall's report."

Another party source told PoliticsHome that Baronell Royall had been assured that her full report would be considered by a separate anti-Semitism inquiry being carried out by Shami Chakrabarti.

But Jeremy Newmark, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: "In deciding not to publish the entire report, the NEC risk contributing to the existing problem of denial of anti-Semitism in the party.  I am deeply frustrated that the full report has not been published.  I know that Baroness Royall is equally frustrated."