by Justin Cohen
Two of Labour’s most prominent MPs have expressed “disappointment” over the party’s failure to publish an initial investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism at Oxford University’s Labour Club.
Labour Students confirmed last week they had completed a probe launched after the resignation of the club’s co-chair, who alleged some members had “some kind of problem with Jews”, and subsequent claims of intimidation by the Jewish Society. The findings had been passed to the main party.
In what is being seen as an escalation of the process, a subsequent investigation has since been launched by the party centrally, headed by Baroness Jan Royall, the former shadow leader of the House of Lords.
But former shadow culture secretary Michael Dugher and Rachel Reeves, who both held shadow cabinet roles under Ed Miliband, write in today’s Jewish News, they said: “In the interests of transparency and to demonstrate beyond all doubt the seriousness with which we take these allegations, the report should be published now.” While they said there is “no better person to look further into the allegations, they argued, “there is no reason why the initial Labour Students report, that will inform Jan Royall’s further work, cannot be made public”.
The pair said the way anti-Semitism was confronted was a “test” for the party and “all eyes are on us”. Labour have previously pledged “robust action” if claims are proven.
The Daily Telegraph has previously reported that two senior activists were being investigated in the wake of claims of harassment and intimidation of Jewish students. Both deny the allegations. One of them narrowly failed to win a seat on the party’s National Executive Committee last weekend, amid accusations of intimidation and smears in the voting process from both his supporters and those of his successful rival.
Dugher and Reeves said: “It isn’t acceptable for the Party to now wrap serious allegations about anti-Semitism inside Labour Students into a wider inquiry about the recent election of the Youth Rep to Labour’s National Executive Committee, which took place at the Scarborough Young Labour conference. Allegations of anti-Semitism at Oxford are not that same as questions over delegates’ credentials in Scarborough.
“The Party leadership must directly engage with these problems, it must discipline anyone who is found to be responsible for anti-Semitic actions. We must have the confidence that robust action will be taken.” This was particularly crucial, they claimed, “because young Jewish people are increasingly staying away from leading universities because of a hostile atmosphere towards Jews”.
Labour Friends of Israel chair Joan Ryan has also written to general secretary Iain McNicol expressing full confidence in Baroness Royall but saying it was “highly inappropriate” for the two probes to be rolled into one. “I now seek an assurance from you that Jan will be asked to conduct two distinct investigations and two reports will be published.”