Labour publishes plan to drive anti-Semitism out of the party

Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent
·3-min read

Labour has published its plan for dealing with anti-Semitism within the party in response to a highly damning report by the equality watchdog.

The plan published on Thursday seeks to create an independent process to investigate complaints, prevent the leader and his office from influencing outcomes, and deal with a backlog of cases.

The issues were cited as problems during the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in finding the party broke the law in its handling of anti-Semitism.

Angela Rayner and Sir Keir Starmer
Angela Rayner and Sir Keir Starmer (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The formal response to the EHRC report published in October is a major test for the party as it seeks to restore its reputation with the Jewish community.

The EHRC welcomed Labour’s plan as being “comprehensive” and said it “meets the recommendations” set out in the investigation.

In the plan’s foreword, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and his deputy Angela Rayner said: “We failed the Jewish community, our members, our supporters and the country.

“That is why we must act to drive anti-Semitism out of our party and change the processes, structures and the culture of the party to ensure Jewish people feel safe to return to their political home.

“That requires more than just words. It requires action.

“The action plan for driving out anti-Semitism from the Labour Party published today sets out concrete steps and a timetable to do this.”

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn (Hollie Adams/PA)

Other details in the plan include appointing external lawyers to advise on hearings and strengthening social media guidelines and due diligence checks for prospective Labour candidates.

It also also includes setting up an advisory board composed of members of the Jewish community to ensure transparency and increase trust in party procedures.

EHRC executive director Alastair Pringle said: “The Labour Party has produced a comprehensive action plan that meets the recommendations made in our investigation report.

“It includes clear steps to ensure that each one is implemented in full and the party has set itself a deadline for this to be achieved.

“This is an important step in the right direction. We are satisfied these changes are realistic and achievable and we will continue to monitor and work with the Labour Party so this plan is adhered to.”

The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) said it was pleased “we now have a new leadership committed to act” and welcomed the plan.

“Many of the steps set out in this action plan are those that JLM has been asking the party to implement for years,” a spokesman said.

“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.”

Mr Corbyn was swiftly suspended in the wake of the EHRC report’s publication after claiming anti-Semitism had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.

After an investigation, his party membership was reinstated by the party’s ruling national executive committee, but Sir Keir has not restored the Labour whip, meaning Mr Corbyn cannot sit as a Labour MP.