A plan by Labour to tackle antisemitism by introducing an independent complaints process and begin stringent checks on candidates’ social media has been approved by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The equalities watchdog accepted the opposition’s formal response following its investigation into racism in the party.
Among recommendations which will be implemented, is creating an “independent process to investigate complaints of antisemitism” and discrimination. This comes after the EHRC’s report found evidence of political interference in claims of racism under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
It will also appoint ‘external lawyers’ to advice its National Constitutional Committee and address the backlog of antisemitism cases.
The action plan will also implement social media checks for prospective Labour candidates and an advisory board composed of members of the Jewish community, to ensure confidence in party processes.
It also suggests developing an educational programme to tackle Jew-hatred, run with community ‘stakeholders’.
Writing the foreword for the plan, Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, said since their election earlier in 2020 “we have made rooting out antisemitism our number one priority.”
They said the EHRC’s report was “incredibly difficult reading.. but its findings were clear and stark: the Labour Party breached the Equality Act in terms of unlawful harassment and indirect discrimination towards our Jewish members.”
Saying Labour “failed the Jewish community”, Starmer and Rayner commit to “change the processes, structures and the culture of the party to ensure Jewish people feel safe to return to their political home.”
Committing to taking “action”, they say the plan sets “out concrete steps and a timetable to do this”, by changing “the way complaints of antisemitism and all other forms of racism are handled.”
“We will not hesitate to sanction those who breach our rules and regulations”, they said, adding that the “action plan will help us act decisively against antisemitism in all its forms. It will hold us to the highest standard and ensure we neither miss incidences nor accept denial or excuses.
“Restoring trust with the Jewish community and changing our party’s culture will take time and hard work, but we will do it.”
Cautiously welcoming the action plan, the Jewish Labour Movement’s National Chair and Secretary, Mike Katz and Peter Mason, said its members “want to see Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner continue to set out clear and decisive actions in tackling anti-Jewish racism within our Party.”
“Many of the steps set out in this Action Plan are those that JLM has been asking the Party to implement for years. We are disappointed that it took the intervention of the EHRC to secure them, but pleased that we now have a new leadership committed to act.”
They said JLM “will continue to play our part in being a loyal but critical friend” of the party, but “our expectations will be however, as they always have been, for strong actions to follow positive words.
“Whilst we welcome the reform of processes, by itself it is not enough. Recent events have shown a toxic culture persists in many parts of the Party. Solving this is as essential as introducing an independent disciplinary process.”
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, welcomed the report. She said: “The EHRC’s acceptance of Labour’s response to its recommendations shows it is satisfied this plan will tackle the problems they identified within the Party.
“Labour’s Action Plan provides a suitable basis to move to the next stage although there are certain things that require further detail, including around the independent disciplinary process and cases that are currently in progress under a broken system.
” We note Labour’s ongoing attempts to deal with this issue. For it to work, the plan will have to be followed closely at every step. We and other Jewish communal organisations will be closely monitoring the situation to ensure that Labour follows through on the changes it has pledged to make.”
Claudia Mendoza, Joint Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council commented: “It is an encouraging step that the EHRC has accepted the Labour Party’s proposed action plan to address anti-Jewish racism.
“We will continue to hold the Party to its word and will work constructively with the new leadership to achieve real and lasting cultural change.”
You can view the action plan here: https://labour.org.uk/ehrc-action-plan/
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