Right on time at 1000 hours this morning, the EHRC report was officially published: there had already been some trailing of its main points. This, too, had been highly selective: those who have backed former leader Jeremy Corbyn to the hilt had their own favourite bits. Those who have spent the past five years denouncing Jezza had other faves.
As an example, let’s see which Purple Ones human rights lawyer Adam Wagner has picked out of the family size tub. “Unlawful Acts” is one of them. Labour “breached the Equality Act 2010 by committing unlawful harassment through the acts of its agents in two of the complaints we investigated”. One of those two was the Ken Livingstone case.
He also selected “Political Interference”. Here, “we found 23 instances of political interference by LOTO staff and others. These included clear examples of interference at various stages throughout the complaint handling process, including in decisions in whether to investigate and whether to suspend”. Livingstone was one of those too.
Why home in on Ken? Because the interference, such as it was, was to try and get the suspension decision made, to expedite it. Livingstone ultimately saved his now former party the trouble by resigning. And there have been other selective interpretations.
One of those is the picking out the Green Triangles by Corbyn supporters. Rachael Cousins has been quick on the draw there: “Waiting for someone, anyone, from the mainstream media to confirm the EHRC *did not* find Labour to be institutionally antisemitic”. But the EHRC did find shortcomings, and said so.
Not surprisingly, the Purple Ones and Green Triangles fans do not agree with one another, as Mike Sivier has shown: “[Ruth Smeeth] talking nonsense about the #EHRCReport - the people she's praising were causing the problems, not trying to fix them - as the EHRC report shows”. Selective partisanship is obscuring some of what should be made clear.
For that clarity, we need to go over to Mic Wright, who has taken the time to actually read the report, and as a result is left with the Toffee Pennies. His conclusions are to be commended. “Labour had a significant number of members who were antisemitic (as the Tories also do), the Corbyn team didn’t take that seriously enough to begin with and were too close to people who held those antisemitic views”. And there is more.
“Labour HQ was poorly run and acted deliberately to make the antisemitism crisis more serious. The EHRC is ruling that the Party is responsible for the actions of individual members … Labour HQ appears to have exacerbated the problem of antisemitism by creating a backlog of cases. Corbyn was not remotely strong enough in his leadership and the party ‘machine’ was a mess”. The myth of Jezza the Stalinist purger.
There has been far too much selective partisanship on view this morning. So some uncomfortable facts are being missed. Corbyn was not decisive or strong enough in his leadership. Action was taken, but the party HQ’s staff do not come out of this smelling of roses. The criteria to which the EHRC have operated should make uncomfortable reading not just for Labour, but any other political party which might face investigation in future.
Matters improved when Jennie Formby arrived on the scene, but by then the damage had arguably been done. However, in not finding that Labour was institutionally anti-Semitic, the EHRC report suggests that this is more cock-up than conspiracy.
Big tubs of Quality Street are already in your nearest supermarket. But don’t over-indulge.
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