Shadow minister rejects calls to abolish equalities watchdog
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Shadow minister rejects calls to abolish equalities watchdog

Labour's Angela Rayner defended the body after a member of the national executive committee called for its abolition

Angela Rayner
Angela Rayner

A shadow minister has rejected calls for the abolition of the Equality and Human Rights Commission after a member of the national executive committee (NEC) described the watchdog as “as a failed experiment”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: “I don’t think it is a failed experiment.

“I don’t think it should be abolished. I think they should have the resources to do their job effectively.”

The NEC member Huda Elmi made the remark in a controversial tweet sent hours after the equalities watchdog announced a probe on claims Labour is “institutionally antisemitic.”

In her tweet, Elmi called for the body to be disbanded, adding that “most of the people it was created to support wouldn’t even notice” were it to cease to exist.

She also called for the creation of “separate, well resourced governmental bodies for each equality strand”.

The activist later issued a clarification, writing that it was a view she had expressed before and insisting it was one “shared by distinguished equality campaigners, lawyers and academics.”

Elmi added: “The current Govt’ has starved it of funding- a progressive equality agenda needs to have resources to give it teeth!!

“The Labour Party has said it will fully cooperate with the EHRC, and I completely support that approach.

“The more scrutiny on prejudice within politics and action to tackle it, the better. As I understand it, the EHRC haven’t launched a formal investigation.”

This comes after the EHRC said that it believes Labour may have “unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs”.

The watchdog said it would contact “Jeremy Corbyn’s party” to set out its concerns and request a response.

If that response is found to be unsatisfactory, the EHRC could launch a formal investigation.

In a statement, an EHRC spokesman said: “Having received a number of complaints regarding antisemitism in the Labour Party, we believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs.

“Our concerns are sufficient for us to consider using our statutory enforcement powers.

“As set out in our enforcement policy, we are now engaging with the Labour Party to give them an opportunity to respond.”

A Labour spokesperson said: “We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be cooperating fully with the EHRC.”

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