The basis in which the Equality and Human Rights Commission said the Labour Party committed unlawful harassment of Jewish people is to be challenged in court.
The long-delayed EHRC report on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, when it finally appeared in late October last year, stated that it could find only two instances in which Labour members had broken the law – involving Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley.
The report claims that Livingstone committed unlawful harassment in April 2016 when he pointed to a “smear campaign by ‘the Israel lobby’ to stigmatize critics of Israel as anti-Semitic, as well as being aimed at undermining and disrupting the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn,” in his defence of Labour MP Naz Shah.
The EHRC report said Shah had posted an image to Facebook “suggesting that Israel should be relocated to the United States” and a second post “in which she appeared to liken Israeli policies to those of Hitler.”
(For clarity: the first image was a satirical response to moves within Israel to forcibly remove all Palestinians from within the borders claimed by the Israeli government to neighbouring Arab states; the claim about the second was even more disgusting – the text, stating that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal, was pointing out that an act can be legal and still be wrong, as stated by the black man depicted in the image… probably the 20th century’s most-celebrated anti-racism campaigner, Martin Luther King. I notice EHRC does not appear to have mentioned that small but important fact.)
Shah admitted anti-Semitic intent in posting the images, although they are not inherently anti-Semitic in themselves. The third tweet mentioned in accusations against her – a claim that “the Jews are rallying” in response to a poll on whether Israel should stop bombing Palestinians to oblivion during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 – was anti-Semitic (it would have been accurate if it had said “pro-Israelis” instead of Jews).
Livingstone has always denied saying anything anti-Semitic. He says the draft EHRC report had not been sent to him before publication, which means he had not been given the opportunity to correct the record.
Livingstone’s defense of Shah included a BBC radio interview in which he accurately pointed out that in the early 1930s when he first came to power, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler “was supporting Zionism.” This was perverted by critics including former Labour MP John Mann into a false claim that Livingstone was saying Hitler himself was a Zionist. That was never true; his aims and those of German Zionists coincided for a brief period, that is all.
The EHRC report does not mention the radio interview comment – which was what led to Livingstone’s suspension from the Labour Party and eventual forced resignation.
Instead it states that, merely by denying that Shah’s posts were anti-Semitic, Livingstone was guilty of “unwanted conduct related to Jewish ethnicity,” which “had the effect of harassing members of the Labour Party.”
But the anti-Semitic intent of the image posts was not apparent in the posts themselves; Shah had to admit it for it to be considered true.
This Writer is less familiar with the case against Bromley so I shall not comment on it here.
In a press release announcing the launch of the case Livingstone said,
“The EHRC’s investigation into the Labour Party was a politically-motivated attack aimed at derailing Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The Commission cobbled together a half-baked case against me, justified by a flawed legal analysis.
“This judicial review will be a vital step in correcting the record and in fighting back against a McCarthyite smear campaign which has been waged against the British Left over the past five years.”
And Bromley added,
“The EHRC Report and its dubious legal analysis will have knock-on effects for freedom of expression. The right of pro-Palestine campaigners to criticise the State of Israel and its apartheid policies is being actively suppressed.
“This judicial review will not only help to clear mine and Ken’s names, it will ensure that the EHRC Report can’t be used as a tool to bludgeon activists who dare to speak up for Palestinians.”
The judicial review is supported by the Left Legal Fighting Fund, which was set up by left-wing former Labour MP Chris Williamson, using the proceeds of a legal win against the Labour Party in 2019.
The fund is hoping to raise £40,000 towards legal costs.
Further details and information on how to donate are available from the Left Legal Fighting Fund here.
Today’s (January 14) announcement must be another blow for hard-right-wing Labour leader Keir Starmer, who welcomed the report and used it to attack former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
He keeps saying he wants to put Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis to rest – but his own activities are prolonging it.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
(but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:
Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.
1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.
2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical
3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/
Join the Vox Political Facebook page.
4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com
And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!
If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!
Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.
The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:
The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here: