Expulsions of anti-Semitic Labour members could be fast-tracked under new plans drafted to tackle the party’s problem of racist abuse, HuffPost UK has learned.
Jeremy Corbyn, his shadow cabinet and the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) will discuss this week a raft of options aimed at improving current disciplinary procedures.
Although deputy leader Tom Watson has tabled his own proposals for automatic expulsion of anyone found guilty of anti-Semitism, it is understood that alternative plans could include acceleration of the clearest or most extreme cases of anti-Jewish abuse.
Under one option drafted by Corbyn allies, the current specialist NEC panels would be given an unprecedented power to expel anti-Semites, rather than referring cases to Labour’s quasi-judicial National Constitutional Committee (NCC).
The NCC can spend months, and in some cases years, determining its decision on expulsion and the new option - understood to have the backing of key Left members of the NEC - is aimed at sending a strong signal in the worst examples of anti-Semitism.
It would stop short of ‘automatic’ expulsion in order to avoid legal challenge and further delay.
Defendants would have the chance to submit evidence and show remorse, but if the NEC panel felt the case was strong enough and clear enough they would be allowed to expel the member concerned.
A further option is to beef up the independent element of the current system, extending the procedures introduced earlier this year for cases of sexual harassment.
Under this plan, independent investigators would handle the first stage of the anti-Semitic complaints before then handing the case to the NEC panels. However, there has been some pushback to the proposal as the panels are already advised by independent lawyers.
None of the options has yet been finalised and are expected to be signed off on Monday.
Corbyn is due to present a package of proposals on - listing a range of options - at an extraordinary meeting of the shadow cabinet, with the aim of then discussing them at the full NEC meeting on Tuesday.
He faces Labour MPs at the final meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) on Monday night, with many furious at the way the party responded to the BBC Panorama programme on the issue earlier this month.
After weeks of controversy and fresh rounds of party in-fighting, Corbyn underlined his determination to be more proactive on the whole issue on Sunday with a new website aimed at educating members to tackle the “poison” of anti-Semitism in the party.
The Labour leader admitted there was “clear enough” evidence that the party has an issue with anti-Jewish bigotry in a letter to all members and supporters.
He encouraged them to visit a page on Labour’s website aimed at helping them confront anti-Semitism “wherever it arises”.
It comes as Labour peers prepare to vote on a motion of no confidence in Corbyn, after the anti-Semitism row was reignited by a BBC Panorama documentary and the sacking of Diane Hayter as shadow Brexit minister for comparing his leadership to “the last days of Hitler”.
An extraordinary meeting of Labour peers has been called on Monday to discuss the move, with a vote likely to follow on Tuesday or Wednesday. Ahead of what could be another testing week, Corbyn claimed the anti-Semitism crisis had been “exaggerated” by political opponents and the media.
But he said: “We must face up to the unsettling truth that a small number of Labour members hold antisemitic views and a larger number don’t recognise anti-Semitic stereotypes and conspiracy theories.
“The evidence is clear enough. The worst cases of anti-Semitism in our party have included Holocaust denial, crude Jewish-banker stereotypes, conspiracy theories blaming Israel for 9/11 or every war on the Rothschild family, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.”