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Socialists call for transparency over anti-semitism investigation that risks being 'suppressed'

SOCIALISTS called today for Labour leader Keir Starmer to commit to “absolute transparency” over a report into the party’s handling of anti-semitism allegations that its lawyers are advising against sending to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The 860-page internal investigation, leaked to Sky News, reportedly found that hostility to former leader Jeremy Corbyn led to key figures such as former party general secretary Iain McNicol and former former acting head of the governance and legal unit Sam Matthews failing to co-operate with the leadership in investigating complaints. 

But Labour is not planning on submitting it to the EHRC, despite the light it might shine on the motives of figures whose attacks on the left leadership included speaking to the widely panned BBC Panorama “investigation” into anti-semitism in Labour broadcast last year.

David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialists’ Group told the Morning Star that the party’s new leader ought to ensure no evidence relating to the way anti-semitism complaints were handled is suppressed.

“Given the Tories’ record of the hostile environment and the Windrush scandal there was always something bizarre about the EHRC homing in on Labour, the leading anti-racist party in mainstream British politics,” he said.

“But it surely ought to be in receipt of all relevant information.

“Although Jeremy Corbyn became party leader in 2015, the Blairite old guard still ran Labour’s bureaucracy until early 2018. Those who have seen the leaked 860-page report say that it singles out for criticism some who gave evidence to last year’s controversial Panorama programme on this issue.”

The implication that Labour’s attempts to deal with anti-semitism complaints were stymied by staff hostile to Mr Corbyn “clearly contradicts the narrative the mainstream media were repeating daily,” Mr Rosenberg pointed out.

“Many left-wing Jewish Labour members had criticised the Labour right wing for cynically using allegations of anti-semitism as a factional weapon. We believed that the leadership was genuine and principled in its efforts to address any such problem. Perhaps this report will validate us. 

“We are not scared of any truths that may emerge but it appears that other people are. We hope that given Keir Starmer’s own legal background, he will commit to seeking absolute transparency on this matter. If an important report is being suppressed we need to know who is suppressing it, and why.”

Film director Ken Loach, whose films The Spirit of ‘45, I, Daniel Blake and Sorry We Missed You have won iconic status among Labour members, said the report was “dynamite.

“If the evidence – all the emails and the secretive, abusive messages – is accurate, there has to be a reckoning, there must be consequences for this behaviour.

“This is also a challenge to the press and broadcasters. Where does it leave Panorama’s intrepid investigative reporter John Ware? Did he try to uncover the whole story, or did he not even bother?”

The investigation, entitled The work of the Labour Party's Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014-2019, uncovers 10,000 emails and thousands of WhatsApp messages revealing plans to install former deputy leader Tom Watson in Mr Corbyn’s place after the 2017 election – and even that senior Labour Party 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.” Conversations on banning activists’ group Momentum and derogatory language used about allies of Mr Corbyn such as his communications director Seumas Milne and chief of staff Karie Murphy are also revealed.

Perhaps most damagingly for Lord McNicol and Mr Matthews it accuses them of  providing “timetables for the resolution of cases that were never met; falsely [claiming] to have processed all antisemitism complaints; falsely [claiming] that most complaints received were not about Labour members and [providing] highly inaccurate statistics of anti-semitism complaints.” They deny the claims.

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