Voice Of The Jewish News: Our debt to courageous whistleblowers

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Voice Of The Jewish News: Our debt to courageous whistleblowers

This week's editorial reflects on the impact of Wednesday evening's BBC Panorama investigation into Labour antisemitism.

Mike Creighton, Director of Audit and Risk 2009-2017(Credit: BBC Panorama - Is Labour Anti-Semitic?)
Mike Creighton, Director of Audit and Risk 2009-2017(Credit: BBC Panorama - Is Labour Anti-Semitic?)

As expected, the eight former Labour staffers who courageously spoke to this week’s BBC Panorama programme of their experience in dealing with antisemitism complaints have already been sneeringly dismissed by the party they fled.

Labour says these former staff harbour grudges and are simply “disaffected and disgruntled”. In one case, where an ex-staffer, Michael Creighton, said he had been laughed at by communications director Seamus Milne, a spokesman said: “The Labour Party dispute this conversation ever took place… this allegation is false and malicious.”

This week’s Jewish News front page on the Labour whistleblowers.

Mr Creighton and the other brave whistleblowers, one who had a nervous breakdown, another who seriously considered suicide, had no reason to make anything up.

The shocking evidence on show in the Panorama programme is a public service, nothing less.

These officials should be applauded, not condemned. The only element about this that’s “false and malicious” is Labour’s wicked refusal to tackle antisemitism in the party without engaging in a welter of morally-repugnant “yesbutery” and “whataboutery”.

Put mildly, this has not been a good week for Labour. Gone are Lord Triesman, Lord Turnberg and Lord Darzi, and gone too is the pretence that there was no political interference in the disciplinary process surrounding its antisemitism cases.

Not gone are the Equality and Human Rights Council investigation and Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose closest aides now have questions to answer, having been shown gently caressing a supposedly independent process.

Gone is the pretence that there was no political interference in the disciplinary process surrounding its antisemitism cases.

How many slaps on the wrist, we are left wondering after Wednesday’s Panorama, would in fact have been goodbye waves had the likes of Seamus Milne and Jennie Formby not elbowed their way into the process in the way they did?

While there may no longer be hope, there remains a very clear way forward for those in Labour who still wish to show that they are on top of the problem. One element was suggested this week by former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown and seconded by Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer.

That is to change the Labour rule-book so that in cases of clear and blatant antisemitism, members are expelled immediately – not in three years’ time, after two hearings, much upset and mountains of legal letters.

The Panorama investigation revealed only 15 people have been expelled from the party for Jew hate in almost four years. Fifteen.

If Labour can expel people like Alistair Campbell within milliseconds of saying he voted Lib Dem, why dilly-dally with diehard racists?

Such a change would not rid Labour’s processes of their innate fairness – if they would they would not have been suggested by Starmer, who is a former Director of Public Prosecutions and the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service. And they would not condemn innocents to expulsion at the whim of the biased.

Rather they would rid a supposedly anti-racist party of racists.

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