A shameful episode

November 24, 2016 23:20

You might be tempted to ask what all the fuss was about.

Baroness Royall's full report into the antisemitism among Oxford University Labour Club members confirms that students were involved in "antisemitic behaviour".

She uncovered examples of Labour students engaging in Jew-hate and of Jewish students being "ridiculed".

Serious points, yes, but taken individually they do not come close to the cumulative effect of the omnishambles now engulfing Labour.

Much of what Baroness Royall found was what Jewish students at Oxford had themselves reported when the story first broke in February.

So why the shock and outrage now? Because it is by reading between the lines, with the knowledge of what has happened in the past six months, that the true horror is to be found.

Labour's NEC saw this full report in May and its reaction was to suppress it. Whose decision was that?

Shami Chakrabarti said she would include the Baroness's full findings on Oxford in her own inquiry. She did not. Baroness Royall was one of her vice-chairs. It is inconceivable, surely, that Ms Chakrabarti had not seen the details?

When questioned by my colleague Rosa Doherty last month, Ms Chakrabarti was vague about what she knew and when she knew it. She said her "impression" was that "the NEC redacted" the report. Where did she get that impression? Why, as part of her own inquiry, did she not delve further, demand to see the full Royall report and include it in her own findings?

The rumours in May were that the Royall report could lead to criminal cases against students who were involved in the incidents. The report was being suppressed, it was claimed, because of threats from big law firms engaged by the students implicated.

But there is no evidence of this in the report we have revealed this week. No redactions. No named students. No references to threats, or injunctions, or police charges.

At the time, a Labour spokeswoman confirmed that the report had been presented to the NEC, that the NEC "accepted the report" and the recommendations had been published. The NEC, the party leadership, and Ms Chakrabarti are running out of places to hide.

We now know the true depths Labour has plumbed under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. The party knew the investigation had uncovered "some incidents of antisemitic behaviour", but sat on that knowledge.

It knew that Jewish members of the OULC "do not feel comfortable attending the meetings", but the party held its tongue.

How shameful - and how devastating to Labour's relationship with the Jewish community.

November 24, 2016 23:20

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