UK “Labour anti-Semitism” probe finds only two “unlawful acts”

The EHRC has accused former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office of “political interference” in anti-Semitism allegations.

Hollie Adams ZUMA Press

The UK’s official equality watchdog has failed to find the Labour Party guilty of “institutional anti-Semitism,” after a 17-month investigation.

But the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) made a veiled swipe at former party leader Jeremy Corbyn in a much anticipated new report on Thursday.

It accuses the party of a “failure of leadership” during Corbyn’s tenure as well as “political interference” by his office over complaints of anti-Semitism.

It accuses two Labour figures – including former mayor of London Ken Livingstone – of “unlawful harassment” against unspecified Jewish people.

“Our investigation has identified serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process for handling anti-Semitism complaints across the Labour Party,” the report states.

But it makes no recommendation of any disciplinary action against individuals. The current Labour leader Keir Starmer said months ago he would implement all its recommendations.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism – one of the two pro-Israel lobby groups that referred Labour to the EHRC in the first place – demanded on Wednesday that heads should roll.

“Those responsible remain in the party and must be held to account,” their chief executive told The Guardian.

The EHRC’s impartiality has been widely called into question.

Its critics – including Corbyn – say it is too close to the ruling Conservatives and point to senior EHRC figures with close ties to the government and of the body’s refusal to act against anti-Black racism.

Former Labour lawmaker Chris Williamson told The Electronic Intifada that the report was “a major climb-down” and that he had been vindicated.

In its referral of Labour to the EHRC last year, pro-Israel group the Jewish Labour Movement had insisted that the body had a duty “to force the Labour Party to acknowledge that it has become institutionally anti-Semitic.”

But the final report published today notably makes no mention of that key allegation – a common smear made by pro-Israel lobby groups in the years since Corbyn became leader in 2015.

“The stitch-up had no legs,” said Williamson. “The serious accusations against me could not be sustained and the EHRC had to back down. I’ve been vindicated as a longstanding anti-racist campaigner.”

Williamson was suspended from the party in 2019 over false anti-Semitism allegations and later resigned in protest.

The Electronic Intifada understands that an earlier draft of the report contained findings against Williamson.

But after representations from Williamson’s lawyers, the EHRC wrote back that they would subsequently remove the findings before publication.

The report claims that “the Labour Party committed unlawful harassment through the actions of its agent, Ken Livingstone” (at the time a member of the ruling National Executive Committee) because in April 2016 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.”

Livingstone did this, the report says, by defending Labour lawmaker Naz Shah, who 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.”

Livingstone has always denied saying anything anti-Semitic. He told The Electronic Intifada that the draft EHRC report had not been sent to him before publication.

In a fuller statement after the report was published on Thursday, he defended his record, saying, “As a life-long anti-racist, I am deeply hurt by – and fully reject – the accusations again being circulated across parts of the media.”

Livingstone’s defense of Shah led to a subsequent 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.”

But the report does not mention the long-running controversy over this comment, which led to Livingstone twice being suspended by the party and ultimately forced to resign.

Instead it asserts that Shah’s posts were “anti-Semitic social media posts” and that merely by denying they were anti-Semitic, Livingstone was guilty of “unwanted conduct related to Jewish ethnicity,” which “had the effect of harassing members of the Labour Party.”

Consequences?

The EHRC has the power under British law to force a body such as the Labour Party to come up with an “action plan” to address its rulings.

The report recommends Labour should commission an “independent process to handle and determine anti-Semitism complaints” for an unspecified period “until trust and confidence in the process is restored.”

Long a demand of the Jewish Labour Movement, Starmer has already committed to establishing an independent complaints procedure for anti-Semitism.

The EHRC does not have any power to sanction individuals.

But James Libson, a lawyer acting for the Jewish Labour Movement, said during a JLM public meeting held on Zoom in June that an EHRC ruling naming individuals could open the way to legal action against them.

“There may be avenues for individual people to bring [legal] proceedings themselves” against Labour figures, Libson said, “if the EHRC says that this person was subject to harassment, unlawful acts, or something of that nature.”

Having already played a major part in removing him as leader, the manufactured “anti-Semitism crisis” campaign which has been seeking to remove Corbyn from Labour altogether may yet achieve its maximal goal.

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Asa Winstanley's picture

There is a “Labour Friends of Palestine and Middle East” but it’s hopelessly weak and seems to be inactive. Its leader even describes herself as a Zionist.

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This battle has been lost. The Zionisation of the Labour Party will soon be complete. In short order, Starmer will preside over a swift decline in membership by a factor of at least half. Far from causing dismay in Labour's current executive, such an outcome is eagerly anticipated. The party will revert to its Blairite status as a tightly controlled electoral machine rather than a political movement, and neoliberalism will once again play a decisive role in setting policy.

Israeli surrogates have assumed direct authority for policing internal discourse, and more expulsions and mass resignations are sure to follow as a fear-driven loyalty to the Jewish State becomes the touchstone of a profound inversion of values. We'll see a concerted effort to arraign and prosecute Corbyn, Livingstone, and perhaps Diane Abbott for the crime of having spoken on behalf of Palestinian rights. The leading Zionist organisations have no intention of abating their attacks. They're going to press home their advantage and demonstrate to anyone still in doubt that no political party in Europe will be allowed to entertain policy options in favour of the dispossessed. This includes even mild reforms to the economic system.

The social democratic era is coming to a close throughout the capitalist world- wherever it has still lingered- and these events in Britain- Brexit, the counter-revolution within Labour, the rise of fascist populism- provide as clear a bookmark at the end of a chapter as we're likely to see.

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Yes, Tom, you're absolutely right. There will be glee among the Labour elite. But the sinister implications you suggest are all too real. We may well see Corbyn prosecuted. That would be the green light for the prosecution of all those expelled or suspended and, of course, the creation of the atmosphere of fear in which people will self-censor. Reflect too, that but for the actions of a handful of malicious bureaucrats at the heart of the Party, Labour might well have denied the Tories in 2017 and Corbyn might have headed a minority administration. Of course, the Establishment has not been blind to that. The panic that it might happen, that another left-wing leader might come through and win next time has occasioned this totalitarian purge. The enormity of this can't be exaggerated. Israel, through its UK proxies, has succeeded in having the most anti-racist leader Labour has had suspended for racism. The media will ensure the public believes there is no smoke without fire and not only is social democracy lowered into its grave, but democracy itself. Next, the Zionists will push for any criticism of Israel to be illegal. Starmer seems willing to oblige. Once that has been done, the slope is slippy and precipitous. Soon, it will be illegal to criticise capitalism. Take 1984 and The Trial from your shelves and gird yourself for a bitter struggle.

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Tom : " Starmer will preside over a swift decline in membership by a factor of at least half. Far from causing dismay in Labour's current executive, such an outcome is eagerly anticipated."

And will no doubt be spun as all the anti-semites leaving. Starmer will be lauded for alledgedly doing what Corbyn was unwilling to do.

And I imagine any attempt by Labour leavers to form a new socialist party will be dubbed the anti-semites party.

They've really got it sewn up, haven't they ?

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Labour is now a totalitarian Party. Discussion of the IHRA is forbidden. Criticism of Israel is implicitly forbidden. Anything short of total support for the Israeli State is anti-Semitic. Corbyn will now be expelled. So will thousands more. The media will join in. The public will be kept in ignorance, as usual. Starmer is a racist: he upholds the racism of Israel towards the Palestinians, as do all the Labour apparatchiks. Labour should be expelling the Zionists who support the illegal occupation of the WB, the prison that is Gaza, the murders, the humiliation, the continuing movement towards buntustans. As for Naz Shah: on 9/10/1945 Judah Magnes excoriated "the growing trend towards totalitarianism among the Jews"; a US intelligence report of 4/6/1943 described Zionism as "a type of nationalism which in any other country would be stigmatised as retrograde Nazism"; Lord Moyne wrote: "If comparison is to be made with the Nazis it is surely those who wish to force an imported regime on the Arab population". What irony that Zionists claim Corbyn is anti-Semitic. It was Arieh Altman who declared that anti-Semitism must "form the foundation of Zionist propaganda". And Herzl himself said: "The Yid is a hideous distortion of the human character". Anti-Semitism has always been at the heart of Zionism: Jews are to be hated unless they are Zionists. Starmer has used the EHRC report as a smokescreen. This was plotted. Institutionalised anti-Semitism? Nowhere to be be seen. Fascism is now on the march in the Labour Party. Reach for your Orwell. Corbyn goes down the memory hole. Many more will follow him. Labour is a Party of the powerful, the brutal, the rich, the racist. Everyone who believes in democracy and equality should abandon it. A new Party to the left of Labour is needed. The unions should withdraw their money from Labour. All of it. Failing that, we should get a new Party off the ground. £20 each and we're up and running.

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There already exists a 100% Socialist, fully democratic, fair, just political party, so totally committed to tackling the Climate Crisis we created the Green New Deal: this is of course the Green Party. If, instead of remaining as an Independent MP or trying to form an entirely new party, Jeremy Corbyn aligned with the Green Party a massive swath of committed Socialists would flock to join him as would other progressive Left Labour MPs.

It is possible within the Green Party to declare as Green and another unique affiliation, so Corbyn and any other like-minded breakaway MPs could renounce the Labour whip, or wait for the public disgrace of the Starmer purge, and then declare as "Progressive Socialist and Green" Candidates. The Unions would have a new party to consider backing with their funding and this, on top of a sizable exodus of Labour MPs, could mean that the Captain of Capitulation, our Tory Trojan horse, Keir Starmer will lose his legitimacy as Leader.

Political Parties are now recognizing the importance of the global Climate Crisis; for the Green Party it was always a major priority, but equality, peace and the Socialist agenda is just as important to the Greens. However, the first past the post voting system kept the party down to a solitary very well respected MP, Caroline Lucas. A new infusion of already elected MPs could mean that the Green Party finally gains the recognition and momentum it needs to surge in popularity among voters weary of austerity, inequality and injustice.

Greens reject Zionist intervention: we have always supported the poor, oppressed and the Palestinian cause. For MPs hounded out of Labour, the Green Party already has a well defined progressive political agenda and a fully organized party structure in place, so they could 'hit the ground running." The Greens rapidly growing international membership stands ready to accept tolerant, peace loving, environmentally conscious, Socialist MPs and new members: join!

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Corbyn's frequent appeasement of the Zionist witch hunt against other critics of Israel, Zionists, and Zionism established the ground work for his own persecution. In other words, Corbyn is being hoisted with his own petard of "anti-racism" and "anti-anti-Semitism". I have very little sympathy for him.

The lesson that mainstream Labour undoubtedly will refuse to learn here is to defend the freedom of thought and expression of those with whom you disagree even when their ideas are objectionable so long as those ideas do not constitute ACTUAL incitement to violence. The UK is on the path that France is far down where Samuel Paty is a hero of the nation for insulting Islam and Alain Soral is frequently fined and imprisoned for insulting the Holocaust.

To be clear, I am not here defending the ideas or actions of Paty and his killer or the ideas or actions of Soral and his persecutors. I am defending the idea of a society where a Paty and a Soral need not fear extra-judicial violence or judicial persecution merely for expressing unpopular or offensive ideas.

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It is beautiful sunny even warm weather here today but I will wear black, in mourning for the death of local , national & LP membership democracy, accountability, justice, hope for any structure which will tackle discrimination & poverty in any meaningful way. I will join any media group, not go quietly protest, but the blogs here substantiate my loss of Hope.

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In the West-----
ANTI-SEMITISM - NO NO NO!!!
ANTI-ISLAMISCM - YES YES YES!!!

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.