It is easy to regard the EHRC’s report into Labour’s institutional racism as marking some sort of closure.
For more than four years after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader in 2015, British Jews were made to feel increasingly wary — to such an extent that nearly half considered leaving the country. That this could have happened in a modern democracy shames Labour. The humiliation of Labour’s defeat last December, the election of Sir Keir Starmer as leader in April, and now this week’s EHRC report may seem like the closing of a despicable chapter in British political history.
It would certainly be understandable if some in our community took that view. The past few years have had a serious impact on the mental and physical health of many Jews — and not just on those who were active in the fight against antisemitism.
This has been a traumatic time for all of our community and many will grasp this opportunity to put it behind us now that judgement has been given.
But that would be a profound mistake. The EHRC report marks not an end but a beginning.
Sir Keir Starmer has so far made the right noises about what he intends to do but he has done nothing, citing as an alibi the need to wait for the EHRC report.
There are no more excuses for Labour. The clock has now started ticking. The antisemites must be expelled — now. The party must turn itself from a racist organisation to a bulwark against racism — now. The culture of the party, in which fellow members are abused and vilified if they regard Israel as a legitimate country, must change — now.
Not as soon as possible; not in the near future; not when the time is right. Now.
Anything less, and Labour will be merely a party with a smart new look but which remains a natural home for racists.