An obstructive Labour Party bureaucracy under right-wingers who opposed Jeremy Corbyn worked to stop him improving the process for handling complaints of anti-Semitism, the former party leader has said in a statement.
Mr Corbyn’s words are corroborated by the new Equality and Human Rights Commission report, which states that “despite … clear recommendations, the Labour Party did not take action to implement these changes until 2018” – after Jenny Formby had replaced Iain McNicol as general secretary, and with a ruling National Executive Committee dominated by supporters of Mr Corbyn after then-recent elections.
Mr Corbyn said, in a statement on Facebook [boldings mine]:
“As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism. I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.
“The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the Party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose. Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy. But from 2018, Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove antisemites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.
“Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.
“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.
“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.
“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
The claim that the scale of the problem was exaggerated has been picked up by the media – I’m hearing it on the BBC as I type this – and it will be interesting to see the accusers squirm as they try to justify their behaviour.
The EHRC investigated 70 complaints of anti-Semitism and found the Labour Party responsible for unlawful harassment against Jewish people in only two.
That’s too many – but it was not enough to justify claims of “institutional” anti-Semitism, so the report has concluded that those claims were false.
I note that none of the people and organisations who made such claims have accepted that finding.
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