Slanted: are we being given the right impression of EHRC report?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published its report into allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and the headline is that it found evidence of unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination for which the Labour Party is responsible.

But in what way?

The headline is that the EHRC did not find that Labour is or was “institutionally” anti-Semitic – but I notice that this is not being reported.

I’ve just downloaded a copy and it refers to ” a culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it”.

The report lays blame for this with a leadership that it says didn’t do enough to implement recommendations for improvements – but we have seen evidence (most clearly in the so-called #LabourLeaks report) that right-wing factionalists deliberately dragged their feet in order to embarrass Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, so are we really going to get any clarity here?

This Writer is particularly interested in what the report says about the anti-Semitism complaints process – having been through that process myself. It states: “The antisemitism complaints process is an area of particular concern, especially given the focus on this in previous investigations into antisemitism.

“Over four years on from these investigations, we expected to see clear, publicly accessible and comprehensive policy documents to guide the complaints process, but the evidence showed that these did not exist.”

This rings true with me. But I am not willing to say it was the responsibility of then-party leader Jeremy Corbyn. It lay with a particular unit in the party, under the direction of the party’s general secretary. Under Iain (now Lord McNicol), the process was (deliberately?) confused. The EHRC report states that ” there have been some recent improvements in how the Labour Party deals with antisemitism complaints” – and I expect to see information that this happened under his replacement Jennie Formby, who was a friend and supporter of Mr Corbyn.

“We found evidence of a significant number of complaints relating to antisemitism that were not investigated at all; this is especially true for complaints about social media activity where the Labour Party previously adopted a policy of not investigating mere ‘likes’ or reposts.” This would have been a policy adopted by the Disputes team.

“Where matters were investigated, the guidance on appropriate sanctions was unclear and inconsistent.” How odd that the EHRC mentions this before referring to the process by which innocence or guilt was established. Did the Equalities watchdog assume that everybody accused must be guilty too?

“We found evidence of political interference in the handling of antisemitism complaints throughout the period of the investigation. We have concluded that this practice of political interference was unlawful. The evidence shows that staff from the Leader of the Opposition’s Office (LOTO) were able to influence decisions on complaints, especially decisions on whether to suspend someone. Sometimes these decisions were made because of likely press interest rather than any clear formal criteria.” I am convinced that my suspension took place in order to generate press interest – but I’m not convinced that Jeremy Corbyn’s office demanded it.

More to follow.

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