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Labour's leaked report: we can't let them get away with it

While we were wholeheartedly campaigning for Britain's first ever socialist government, the Labour right was actively sabotaging its own party in any way it could think of. It's all in the open now: so it is time to take action against the guilty, writes LAURA SMITH

AFTER a brief break from Twitter for the bank holiday I came back online to the revelations of a damning internal party report, titled The Work of the Labour Party’s Governance & Legal Unit in Relation to Anti-Semitism, 2014-2019 that was leaked on Sunday.

Although, like many, I was fully aware of the hostility and organised attempts to undermine the Labour leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, reading of the systematic sabotage by the party apparatus between his election in September 2015 and Jennie Formby taking over as general secretary in April 2018 made even my jaw hit the floor.

The paranoia and dislike from some towards working-class activists like me who supported Corbyn and made it to Parliament was always clear. In my first week in June 2017 I was introduced to several fellow MPs on the terrace. Among the first words out of Neil Coyle’s mouth were: “So — are you a Trot?”

Welcome to the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Now, I have some people who I consider friends in the Parliamentary Labour Party who are not politically akin to me in all ways; but I always felt that there was a mutual respect between us and ultimately a desire for a Labour government. For others it was clear they would step on me like a cockroach if possible.

The near total silence on this report from many Labour politicians is hard to stomach. Whether or not you supported Corbyn for leader or not: Call out the racism. Call out the sexism. Call out the bullying and the blatantly hateful language. Otherwise accept that it was always about kicking out anyone who supported the Corbyn project.

Reading the hatred and bullying from well-paid professionals in high-powered positions tasked with winning a Labour government “for the many, not the few” — while doing everything that they could to undermine and destroy that hope — is heartbreaking. I am bitterly disappointed.

This report has also blown apart the myth that Corbyn’s Loto (leader of the opposition’s office) was responsible for undermining efforts to deal effectively with anti-semitism in the party. It instead shows that officials, motivated by hostility to Corbyn’s left-wing politics, made a concerted effort to scupper the handling of complaints before Formby became general secretary in spring 2018.  The governance & legal unit (Glu) failed to act on the vast majority of complaints received, including those regarding anti-semitic conduct.

Unsurprisingly, by the time Jennie came in as GS a massive backlog of complaints had developed, and that was then used to suggest that Corbyn and the left were responsible for failures to investigate and deal with complaints about anti-semitic conduct.

This very personal vendetta by a faction of the party has without doubt caused untold misery to those who have sought justice and support from the party. I myself remember clearly being scoffed at when I pointed out that the backlog Formby inherited was a key reason for reports of anti-semitism not being dealt with swiftly enough. She was clearly set up to fail.

This report has cut wounds open in the membership that I don’t know can be healed. The 2017 election campaign was such a wonderful campaign to be part of in the constituency that I fought for, my home constituency of Crewe & Nantwich. We had no outside support but locally we did everything that we could, and they were without doubt some of the happiest times of my life.

A local party that has had more than its fair share of comradely debates, we were united locally in fighting for a socialist Labour government with a cracking manifesto that respected the 2016 referendum result, and it looked like the hope of the movement could help our society to heal.

To know that on election night — when we were biting our nails until 6.30am after three recounts and crying with joy that we had done it and taken away the Tories majority, coming within a whisker of a Labour government — the general secretary at the time Iain McNicol complained that “it is going to be a long night” while others claimed it was the “opposite to what I had been working towards for the last couple of years,” makes me really unbelievably angry.

The time, the expense, the energy, the belief that we were all fighting for a Labour government shattered.

The desire to end the leadership of Corbyn and to regain control of the Labour Party ran so deep that these party officials were rooting for electoral failure. Totally unforgivable.

The disdain towards members is also clear to see. I find this misrepresentation utterly inexcusable and my gratitude towards all those members who came together to fight for our Parliamentary seat in 2017 and 2019 can never be expressed loudly enough.

To read that there was discussion of “hanging and burning” Corbyn, while those MPs who nominated him should be “taken out and shot.” And, apparently, “death by fire is too kind for Loto:” it is no surprise that many are throwing in the towel now and saying: enough is enough.

We must now resist any pressure to brush this under the carpet.

Keeping quiet and carrying on regardless will solve nothing and in no way tackle this poisonous culture that grips the Labour Party. Those hurt and bruised in Labour must now organise and unite.

The divides opened over Brexit were an orchestrated and successful attempt to divide us. The recent leadership election was designed again to squash our voices. Egos and incompetence on the left cannot go without blame in all of this.

Clear leadership and political education have been lacking in the Labour Party at crucial times. The recent failure to organise and unite over the national executive committee (NEC) by-elections cost us greatly. If we cannot do better for the upcoming summer NEC elections, then the purpose of us is questionable.

The organisation needed fixing yesterday — and empty feel-good rhetoric is pointless and solves nothing.

Yes, our fight should be with the Tories and the Establishment. But this whole shambles has proved that until Labour get their own house in order they are nothing but a hindrance to achieving that vision.

Laura Smith is the former shadow minister of state for the cabinet and served as MP for Crewe & Nantwich from 2017 to 2019.


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