Labour NEC backs Corbyn’s plan for speeding up serious antisemitism cases

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Labour NEC backs Corbyn’s plan for speeding up serious antisemitism cases

Party's ruling body accepted the leader's proposal to fast-track expulsions in extreme cases of clear-cut Jew-hate

Labour’s ruling body has accepted Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for speeding up the way serious complaints of antisemitism are dealt with.

The National Executive Committee (NEC), meeting in London, agreed to endorse the proposal to allow fast-track expulsions in the most serious cases, a party spokesman said.

It is understood that the agreement came after a motion calling for a fully independent process for dealing with such cases was withdrawn.

There had been criticism of Mr Corbyn’s plan because of the proposed involvement of general secretary Jennie Formby who has been accused of interfering in complaints of antisemitism.

The spokesman said the proposal would be further developed to enable the NEC to finalise a “fair and legally robust” rule change that can be put to the party’s annual conference in September.

“The vast majority of Labour members are motivated by equality, justice and fairness, and despise antisemitism,” the spokesman said.

“The party is taking decisive and robust action against antisemitism and the rate at which antisemitism cases are dealt with has increased more than four-fold since Jennie Formby became general secretary.”

Under the proposed changes, the most serious allegations of antisemitism will be referred to a special panel including Ms Formby and NEC officers.

Earlier, the parliamentary chairwoman of the Jewish Labour Movement, Ruth Smeeth, warned any new process needed to be independent of the leadership if it was to command confidence.

“There is still no independence, in fact arguably political power over antisemitism cases is going to be consolidated by political supporters of Jeremy Corbyn,” the MP told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think we need a completely independent process that could restore faith for everybody.”

Jewish Labour Movement chair Mike Katz also berated the proposals put forward by Corbyn, saying he “can’t have any confidence” in them, and that they were “just rearranging the deckchairs.”

He said the NEC “is elected on factional slates on the basis of political patronage” with “an in-built majority for the left which does what the leadership of the Party tells it to”.

“We know we can’t rely on the NEC to make decisions in the interest of Jewish members. It’s failed for years to guard against factional and political interference.

“Nothing short of a fully independent process… is even going to begin to suggest that the Party leadership really cares about tackling institutional anti-Jewish racism.”

However Labour sources said it was unclear how such a system could work in practice.

“No other political party or trade union has outsourced its complaints process,” one source said.

“It is unclear how it could logistically work and comply with our responsibilities under data protection legislation. It could threaten the jobs of hard-working staff who have taken swift and robust action on cases.

“What’s important is that we are transparent about the way in which we are handling cases to build confidence and trust.

“That’s why we have published the data on disciplinary cases and are seeking to bring forward proposals for independent oversight of our processes.”

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