Let’s say it straight: Labour leader Keir Starmer has been accused of lying about processes within the Labour Party to tackle racism, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
Both Martin Forde KC, whose report on the subject was commissioned and then ignored by Starmer, and Jeremy Corbyn, who has been widely – and falsely – accused of allowing anti-Semitism to run wild in the party while he was leader, have demanded action to implement the Forde Report’s recommendations.
Mr Forde rounded on Starmer’s claim that Labour had “zero tolerance of anti-Semitism, of racism, of discrimination of any kind”.
Speaking to a virtual event organised by Compass on Monday (March 20), he said:
We’ve heard it from various politicians, but you can’t implement zero tolerance unless you’re policing things fairly rigorously and you’ve got transparent systems in place.
It’s not enough to say, ‘I’ve been on a course’, and that means I’m untouchable.
And he criticised Labour’s decision not to introduce an independent directorate that would oversee the party’s disciplinary process.
This is interesting from This Writer’s point of view, because a Labour NEC member is on the record as having said the Forde Report’s recommendations were being followed:
We are literally implementing his recommendations, what is there to meet about? https://t.co/QZODGQFJpy
— Abdi Duale (@AbdiDuale_) March 17, 2023
I think part of the reason that factionalism has arisen around this is because there is a perception that different groups are treated differently,” Forde said.
Jeremy Corbyn’s comments were, if anything, more harshly critical of his successor:
I am deeply alarmed to learn that the Labour leadership has failed to engage with Martin Forde following the publication of his important report.
Read my full statement: https://t.co/LBc6QP32uH pic.twitter.com/oPZzxS0jtr
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) March 20, 2023
I’ll reproduce his statement below – not just for people who can’t read image files, but also to provide commentary:
The Forde Report called out the horrific sexism and racism expressed toward Diane Abbott and others among senior members of Labour Party staff who were factionally opposed to me leadership. Eight months on from the Report’s publication, it is appalling that anti-Black racism and Islamophobia are not treated seriously enough by the Party.
There should never be a hierarchy of racism.
This is a criticism of Starmer, who has been attacked for making it seem that it is more important to tackle anti-Semitism against Jews who are Zionists and supporters of the current Israeli government than any other form of racism.
We must stand up to all forms of discrimination, which is why I called for the swift implementation of the EHRC recommendations to improve the Party’s disciplinary processes for handling antisemitism complaints. Concerns about anti-Black racism and Islamophobia, detailed by Forde, must be treated with equal significance.
The Forde Report also details instances of factionalism that hindered our objectives and undermined the democratic mandate of Party members. Since April 2020, this culture of factionalism has escalated.
April 2020 was when Keir Starmer became Labour Party leader. Mr Corbyn is saying that Starmer has either ignored or supported such factionalism (my personal opinion is that he has encouraged it; some may claim he is even responsible for it).
Across the country, socialist members with grassroots and trade union support have been blocked from standing as Labour candidates, denying Party members the right to fair and democratic selection processes.
The recommendations of the Forde Report must be implemented. That is the bare minimum. But we must go further in fighting for a politics of anti-racism, democracy and solidarity in wider society. That means opposing the government’s assault on refugees, rather than pandering to divisive rhetoric. It means offering bold solutions to the compounding crises facing us all. And it means building a vision of hope, which inspires people to fight for a more equal, sustainable and peaceful world.
The factionalist attacks against left-wing Labour members should certainly be brought to the attention of the wider public – because their impact has the potential to harm the wider public significantly, if a Labour government is elected into office in 2024 or 2025.
The reason for such concern may be summed up with the words of “a senior left-wing Labour MP” who spoke after the Compass event. That person said:
“If you want to know how [a] party will treat you in government, look at how it treats its members.”
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