Two whistleblowers who took part in the BBC Panorama exposé Is Labour Antisemitic? have recounted how the number of cases grew massively after Jeremy Corbyn took the leadership in 2015.
Speaking at Limmud Festival in Birmingham, Mike Creighton said that pre-2015, “while I do not have access to data bases, I cannot remember a single case of antisemitism.
“The sort of cases we dealt with were spats between two parliamentary candidates over leafletting. And even these were relatively few in number,” he told Luke Akehurst of We Believe In Israel.
However, Creighton noted, when Ed Miliband opened up the ranks by dropping the joining fee to £3, “people joined who did not share Labour’s values as a democratic socialist party. All sorts of people from the Socialist Workers’ Party and the Stop the War Coalition became members in order to elect their puppet.”
This, he added, “changed the world view of the party and there was an upscale in the number of cases”.
Fellow whistleblower Dan Hogan said that “despite an increase in resources, we never really cleared the backlog of complaints. And there were allegations that the complainants were Mossad agents and the journalists reporting the cases were secretly Jewish.”
Hogan, who like many had to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) after leaving the office where he investigated complaints, said he and others had suffered from mental stress.
He said: “Our team became a target for abuse because we didn’t fit in with the views of Corbyn and Jennie Formby [the General Secretary of the Labour Party], a Corbyn ally. One by one the staff left on sick leave, as did my boss, Sam Matthews [the party’s former head of disputes] who contemplated suicide.”
Creighton recalled a meeting with Seamas Milne, the Labour Party’s Executive Director of Strategy and Communications and someone who is very close to Corbyn – some claim he is the real power in the party – where he was asked how the problem could be solved.
“He laughed after I said that the leader [Corbyn] needs to make a clear and unequivocal statement against antisemitism and in favour of the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict,” he said.
“I then realised that the problem he – and probably Corbyn – wanted to solve was not antisemitism, but the bad press.”
Both Creighton and Hogan are still members of the Labour Party. Creighton said he was, however, “no longer active. You’d have to pay me a lot of money to go to a constituency Labour Party [CLP] meeting now, and I didn’t leaflet at the last election. But I voted from my MP who is good on antisemitism.”
He added that he did not leave, because “you cannot win the argument by vacating the field. You need to stay and fight, or rejoin and fight”.
Hogan said he was still a member, “but I can’t go to my CLP meetings because of what happened. I am also very selective when it comes to campaigning. I went to Stoke to help Ruth Smeeth [the former MP who lost her seat in the 12 December election].”
Hogan said that the country needed a “credible centre-left party to hold the Tory government to account. But in the interests of self-care, I pick my battles”.
Looking to the future, Creighton said that “the party has to gain the trust of a whole community, and that will not be easy. The next leader will have to, on day one, engage with the Equality and Human Rights Commission [which is investigating the party for antisemitism] and agree to, and act on, its findings without equivocation.
“The party will have to issue an apology to the Jewish community without delay and make sure that the Jewish Labour Movement is brought back into the fight and made front and centre to see this through.”
Finally, he stressed that the party will have to find a way to break its own rules “to welcome back those who stood for other parties [such as Luciana Berger who stood for the Lib Dems in Finchley and Golders Green].”
Hogan added that the party has to demonstrate its willingness to repair the damage by stating clearly that there would be not return for the likes of “George Galloway, Chris Williamson and Ken Livingstone. It must also distance itself from Salma Yacoob, [the former Respect party activist who is on the shortlist to become Labour candidate in the West Midlands mayoral elections in May] and the Canary, Skwawkbox and groups such as the Labour Representation Committee”.