“Straight talking”? “Honest politics”? Prove it, Lord McNicol; prove it.
Labour lawyers have stepped in to stop a report on the party’s response to anti-Semitism accusations being submitted to the Equalities & Human Rights Commission – because it shows that right-wing party officers spent years backstabbing Jeremy Corbyn.
The report runs to 860 pages and concludes that factional hostility towards Mr Corbyn amongst former senior officials contributed to “a litany of mistakes” that hindered the effective handling of the issue.
It provides evidence that senior staff “openly worked against the aims and objectives of the leadership of the Party, and in the 2017 general election some key staff even appeared to work against the Party’s core objective of winning elections”.
In other words, by the time Jeremy Corbyn became leader, it seems the organisational structure beneath him was riddled with individuals who hated the Labour Party and were actively working to ensure it would not win a general election.
Reading between the lines, it seems this means they misled the elected leadership about the number and nature of anti-Semitism allegations, hid documents to make some claims appear more credible than they were, and deliberately obstructed investigations to falsely make Mr Corbyn’s leadership appear incompetent.
Of course, there’s no way to know whether that’s true, until the report is published. I look forward to seeing new leader Keir Starmer order it, although I fear I may be waiting for some time.
What we do know, from a Sky News report on the document, is that it says there was “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ” towards Jeremy Corbyn which “affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints”.
It seems the anti-Corbyn faction ensured a lack of “robust processes, systems, training, education and effective line management”.
The report doesn’t find any anti-Semitic intent behind the behaviour, or that anti-Semitism complaints were handled differently to any other – but this should not come as any surprise.
The anti-Corbynites’ intention was to create an impression that anti-Semitism was a huge problem in the party – not to engage in it themselves. That would have been counter-productive.
And why should anti-Semitism complaints be handled any differently when the intention was to portray Mr Corbyn as incompetent?
In this context, the report casts doubt on the validity of claims made by the BBC in last year’s Panorama documentary, Is Labour Antisemitic.
Some of the stars of that particular film – which took their claims as cast-iron fact – are also heavily featured in the report, including the former General Secretary, Lord McNicol, and the former acting head of the governance and legal unit, Sam Matthews.
Lord McNicol and other senior figures are accused of providing “false and misleading information”on the handling of anti-Semitism complaints to Mr Corbyn’s office, which the report claims meant “the scale of the problem was not appreciated” by the leadership.
Note that we are not told whether this means anti-Semitism was more or less prevalent than Mr Corbyn was led to believe.
According to Sky News, the report quotes:
Conversations in 2017 which appear to show senior staff preparing for Tom Watson to become interim leader in anticipation of Jeremy Corbyn losing the election
Conversations which it is claimed show senior staff hid information from the leader’s office about digital spending and contact details for MPs and candidates during the election
Conversations on election night in which the members of the group talk about the need to hide their disappointment that Mr. Corbyn had done better than expected and would be unlikely to resign
A discussion about whether the grassroots activist network Momentum could be ‘proscribed’ for being a ‘party within a party’
A discussion about ‘unsuspending’ a former Labour MP who was critical of Jeremy Corbyn so they could stand as a candidate in the 2017 election
A discussion about how to prevent corbyn-ally Rebecca Long-Bailey gaining a seat on the party’s governing body in 2017
Regular references to corbyn-supporting party staff as “trots”
Conversations between senior staff in Lord McNicol’s office in which they refer to former director of communications Seamus Milnes as “dracula”, and saying he was “spiteful and evil and we should make sure he is never allowed in our Party if it’s last thing we do”
Conversations in which the same group refers to Mr. Corbyn’s former chief of staff Karie Murphy as “medusa”, a “crazy woman” and a “bitch face cow” that would “make a good dartboard”
A discussion in which one of the group members expresses their “hope” that a young pro-Corbyn Labour activist, who they acknowledge had mental health problems, “dies in a fire”
The report was drafted as a submission by the Labour Party to the EHRC’s ongoing investigation into “institutional anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party, and contains passages that refer to that organisation or address it directly. It therefore seems strange in the extreme that the party is now refusing to submit it, and claiming that it is out of the scope of the EHRC’s inquiries. Here’s Sky’s Tom Rayner:
The quoted extract says, “We hope the EHRC will focus on the documentary, primary-source evidence that the Party has made available to it… rather than the personal accounts of staff or former staff.” How is the EHRC supposed to do that if Labour won’t hand over the report?
Mr Rayner went on to say that a Labour source who worked in Mr Corbyn’s office said the report showed the leadership had been “sabotaged and set up left right and centre by McNicol’s team”.
Now read the quotes he had from McNicol himself, and from Matthews:
From McNicol we get whataboutery: party officers have been “trawling 10,000 emails rather than challenging anti-Semitism”. Of course, it would not have been necessary if he had done his job properly, right? And, really, an issue affecting only 0.06 per cent of party members (some of whom have been falsely accused, like This Writer) doesn’t merit the attention of every single person working for Labour.
Matthews simply attempts to divert blame. But here’s the thing: the report asks for the primary evidence – the documents – to be considered, rather than the comments on those documents by interested parties. The data doesn’t lie.
The report’s non-publication has scandalised those of us with a stake in the issue – and should upset anybody else with an interest in justice. Many in the media leapt on the fabrication and treated it as real, without any reason to do so.
For example: remember Phillip Schofield demanding an apology for the anti-Semitism crisis in Labour, on live TV during the general election campaign? Now we see evidence that it was cooked up by backstabbers, will Mr Schofield be issuing an apology for sabotaging Labour’s election campaign?
Twitter has been alive with outrage:
There is already a mechanism by which anybody who is concerned about this issue can demand that the report be published for all to read, including the EHRC. Here it is:
Please visit the site and sign the petition. I have!
Source: Report in to antisemitism in Labour Party concludes that Jeremy Corbyn and senior leadership were stitched up – Dorset Eye
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