The Labour Party has been found “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” in its handling of antisemitism. A report concluded by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the party’s leadership had “seriously” failed at curbing the issue within the party. It has led to the suspension of Mr Corbyn much to the dismay of the outfit’s Left.
Labour’s new leader, Sir Keir Starmer, said it was a “day of shame” for Labour.
He now has six weeks to respond to the report with a step-by-step plan of how the party will rectify the issue and move forward.
He promised to implement the EHRC’s recommendations “as soon as possible” in the New Year in a bid to “change the culture” of the party.
On hearing the outcome of the report, Steven Fielding, Professor of Political History at the University of Nottingham who specialises in the politics of the Labour Party, told Express.co.uk that the issue has once and for all “directly contradicted the pro-Corbyn narrative that antisemitism cases were treated without any political interference from the leadership”.
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He explained: “That is a damning finding and I expect some Corbynites to come out fighting, denying it.
“The more some on the left attack the report however the less credible they will look – I think most Corbyn supporters – apart from a hard core – want the issue to go away and see the report as a way of drawing a line.”
Prof Fielding said it is particularly salient that parts of the report praised Sir Keir’s handling of the issue on becoming leader in April.
He said the leader can now use this “to confirm Labour is under ‘new leadership’ and in that sense it might actually be helpful to him”.
Shortly after the report was announced, Mr Corbyn took to social media with his take on it.
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In a Facebook post, he wrote: “Antisemitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes.
“As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism.
“I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.
“The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the Party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose.
“Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy. But from 2018, Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove antisemites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.
“Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.
“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.
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“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.
“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
The EHRC launched its investigation into antisemitism after a number of complaints from organisations and individuals, including the Jewish Labour Movement.
Its report found the party responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: Political interference in antisemitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints, and harassment.
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In response to Mr Corbyn’s departure, a Labour Party spokesman said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.
“He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
Sir Keir told reporters shortly after the decision: “If – after all the pain, all the grief, and all the evidence in this report – there are still those who think there’s no problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party, that it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack, then, frankly, you are part of the problem too.
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“And you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.”
Several Labour MPs have already come forward commending Sir Keir’s move.
Harriet Harman, the MP for Camberwell and Peckham, tweeted: “This is the right thing to do. If you say that AS exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it and are, as Keir Starmer says, part of the problem.”