The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has finished its report on allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and sent a copy to Keir Starmer. We can expect it to be leaked soon, then.
That’s only if the report is critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, of course. If not, we can expect the party’s right-wing factionalists to keep tight-lipped about it.
It will be hard to take the report seriously in any event; the EHRC is the so-called equality organisation that refused to investigate government discrimination against sick and disabled people.
And it declined the opportunity to investigate Conservative Islamophobia because that party was conducting an investigation of its own. What about Labour’s (now-multiple) investigations into anti-Semitism?
There’s a very strong double-standard operating here.
The report won’t be made public until September, we are now told – after Labour as an organisation, rather than just Starmer, has had a chance to comment on it.
In the meantime, let’s take the opportunity to review the standards under which the investigation should have been carried out.
We are fortunate to have Richard Snell’s observations, originally posted on Facebook, to help us in this.
He wrote in a letter to EHRC chair David Isaac:
“I hope that [the EHRC] bases its inquiry on the historical definition of anti-Semitism which is a hatred of all Jews and of the whole of Jewish religion and culture, a definition which does not concern itself with any one state and does not discriminate between the different denominations or branches of the Jewish people?
“I point this out because the allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party are being made by certain of its members who wish to protect Israel from the criticisms which have followed on from its actions in Palestine. These see fit to associate in the public mind the contemporary and specific criticisms of the modern state of Israel with the long tradition of anti-Semitism which I have described above.
“It was to ensure that this equation was regularised that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism was formulated.
“I feel therefore it is vital that the EHRC ignores the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism in this context as being politically-motivated, permitting the suppression of criticism of Israel and diverting attention away from the genuine problems many Jews face as they have always faced regardless of their allegiance or lack of it to Israel.
“I am myself a Jew, and feel this strongly.
“All this being said, then may I also hope that the EHRC asks the following questions in the course of its investigation, questions inspired by the kinds of actions historically taken against Jews by those who oppose them simply because they are Jews, i.e. by genuine anti-Semites?
“1. Have any Jews been required to identify themselves as Jews in their application to join the Party?
“2. Have any Jews been excluded from the Party on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
“3. Have any Jews been required by the Party to carry or wear something which specifically identifies them as being Jewish?
“4. Have any Jews been denied access to meetings, committees or conferences on the sole grounds that they are Jews?
“5. Have any Jews been denied the right to stand as officers for, speak at, or in any other way contribute to meetings, committees or conferences, on the sole grounds they are Jews?
“6. Have any Jewish officers been denied promotion within the Labour Party on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
“7. Have any Jews been denied membership of the NEC on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
“8. Have any Jews been denied the right to stand as Parliamentary candidates on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
“9. Have any Jews been denied the right to cabinet status on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
“10. Have any Jews ever been denied the right to stand for the Party leadership on the sole grounds that they are Jewish?
“11. Is there any part of the Party’s constitution which includes Jews among those social classes of which the Labour Party is critical?
“12. Are there any rules in the Party’s rule-book which are specific to Jews, both regarding how they must or must not behave and what kinds of discriminatory actions should be taken against them?
“13. Have any representatives of the Party been permitted by the Party to speak or write against Jews in any public forum, or in so doing have claimed that they are speaking on the Party’s behalf?”
I agree with Mr Snell that it is by its answers to these questions that we should judge the EHRC’s report. Failure to answer them will raise even more serious questions about the organisation’s role than already exist.
Mr Isaac should be a nervous man. He may have judged the Labour Party, but we will now judge the EHRC.
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