Jeremy Corbyn calls for reform to speed up process to deal with antisemitism

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Jeremy Corbyn calls for reform to speed up process to deal with antisemitism

Labour leader puts forward proposal to try and better deal with Jew-hate crisis which has dominated his leadership

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Photo credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

Jeremy Corbyn has called for reform to speed up the way antisemitism cases are dealt with as the crisis continued to dominate his leadership.

However, the proposals fell well short of calls from Jewish community leaders for a fully independent process.

The Labour leader presented two options to the shadow cabinet including giving national executive committee panels the power in the most serious of cases to sanction members either with suspension or expulsion.

Currently the NEC panels do not have the power to expel members, which can only be carried out by the NCC.

But Corbyn will tell colleagues his preferred option is for any complaint that met the criteria for the most serious of cases to be be referred to a special panel consisting of the General Secretary and NEC Officers. If that panel was satisfied that the criteria were met, they would have the power to expel the member.

Keir Starmer led calls for a dedicated shadow cabinet meeting amid growing anger over revelations from whistleblowing former staffers, compounded by the party’s response to the programme. Corbyn told the meeting his “is not an antisemitic party but those who deny its existence within Labour is “part of the problem”.

He referred to new educational resources and insisted “the rate at which antisemitism cases have been dealt with has increased more than four-fold since Jennie Formby became General Secretary”. But he added: “I also know that some complaints have taken too long to deal with. This is not good enough. Our members don’t want to share their party with anyone who is racist – and they want to be able to demonstrate there is no place for antisemitism among them.

“Some of the hate and bigotry displayed on social media would count as gross misconduct in any workplace, and must be treated similarly robustly in the Labour Party. Therefore, at the NEC tomorrow, I will propose that we adopt a new way of dealing with the most extreme cases. Defining what would qualify as an extreme case of hate and bigotry is of course a sensitive and complex area, and I would like the NEC to look at that in more detail.”

Jennie Formby, Labour’s General Secretary, updated the shadow cabinet on complaints process for the first six months of the year and committed to regularly publishing statistics.

Her report demonstrated the significant progress made in processing complaints, with an increase in the number of decisions made on antisemitism cases.

Between 1st January and 30th June 2019, there have been 6 meetings of the NEC Antisemitism Panels, resulting in 190 decisions on antisemitism cases, compared to just eight decisions over the same period in 2018, when there were 2 meetings of the panel.

From the start of 2019 until June 30 2019, 28 NCC cases were concluded with 8 members were expelled, compared to 10 cases concluded over the same period in 2018, resulting 7 expulsions.

The party also outlined that between January 1 and June 30 of this year 116 members were subject to administrative suspension and 146 complaints are currently being processed.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “Publishing this data demonstrates the Labour Party’s commitment to transparency in its efforts to root out bigotry and racism, going far beyond any other political party. We are swiftly suspending individuals and the rate at which antisemitism cases are dealt with has increased more than four-fold since Jennie Formby became General Secretary. These figures provide a complete and accurate picture and demonstrate that we are taking decisive and robust action against antisemitism.”

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