EHRC ends Labour Party monitoring imposed after 2020 antisemitism report

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission says the party has met the demands imposed after its devastating report on antisemitism within the party in 2020


HARLOW, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 05: Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn (L) and Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the EU look on prior to delivering a Brexit speech at the Harlow Hotel on November 5, 2019 in Harlow, England. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has ended its monitoring of the Labour Party, saying it has met the demands imposed when the Commission issued a devastating report on antisemitism within the party in 2020.

The move was warmly welcomed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and by leading Jewish organisations, who agreed there had been significant progress – an indication that for many British Jews, Labour is no longer seen as toxic.

The October 2020 report said there had been a “breakdown of trust” between Labour and both its Jewish members and the wider Jewish community.

It said there had been unlawful “harassment and discrimination”, as well as a “lack of leadership” under Jeremy Corbyn and a complaints process deemed “poor”, “inadequate” and subject to political interference.

It demanded an “action plan” in response, saying it would continue to monitor its implementation until its goals had been achieved. It has now found this to be the case.

Sir Keir pledged to “tear out antisemitism by its roots” on his first day as leader three years ago, and is set to make a speech in east London this morning, in which he will apologise for the hurt caused to the Jewish community.

“To all those who were hurt, who were let down, who were driven out of our party, who no longer felt it was their home, who suffered the most appalling abuse: Today, on behalf of the entire Labour Party, I say sorry,” Sir Keir will say. “What you have been through can never be undone. Apologies alone cannot make it right”.

The EHRC decision is “not a moment for celebration, but a moment for reflection”, Sir Keir will say in his speech.

He will also point out that since the EHRC report was published, has Labour has followed the Commission’s recommendations to reform its disciplinary processes make them transparent, and has instituted antisemitism training for staff and elected officials.

Sir Keir will add that Labour has also expelled hundreds of individual members and party sub-groups that tried to campaign against the EHRC report. He will thank members who “have made it their mission to restore, renew and rebuild Labour on behalf of the country”.

According to Sir Keir, “it is thanks to them that we can say firmly, proudly, confidently: the Labour Party has changed”.

Marcial Boo, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “We have reviewed progress with the agreed action plan since [October 2020]. On 31 January 2023, we concluded our monitoring as we were satisfied that the Party had implemented the necessary actions to improve its complaints, recruitment, training and other procedures to the legal standards required.

"This will help to protect current and future Labour Party members from discrimination and harassment."

Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews called the EHRC decision to end monitoring “an important moment in Labour’s fight against antisemitism, recognising the Party’s strong move in the correct direction”.

“Since taking office, Keir Starmer and his leadership team have made it clear that removing antisemitism from the Party is a top priority. Labour has worked closely with key Jewish communal organisations, including the Board of Deputies, to ensure that those who engage in antisemitic behaviour or defend it are unwelcome within the Party”, Ms van der Zyl said.

The Community Security Trust and the Jewish Leadership Council issued a joint statement, saying: “We always maintained that we would judge the Labour leadership on its actions rather than its words. The Labour Party under Sir Keir Starmer has gone a significant way towards making the Labour Party an unwelcome home for anti-Jewish racists.

“We believe that the Labour Party and Sir Keir have engaged us honestly and transparently about the scale of the challenge throughout the EHRC monitoring period and we have welcomed this radically different approach.

The two groups said they would “continue to work with the Labour Party leadership, as we do with the leadership of all political parties, to represent the interests of the Jewish community and ensure that antisemitism is never again allowed to pollute mainstream politics.”

The Jewish Labour Movement called the EHRC decision “a hugely significant moment for the Labour Party and for British politics. We welcome the EHRC giving Labour a clean bill of health”.

The JLM said that in 2019, under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, , it had “submitted testimony from hundreds of Jewish members and more than 70 whistleblowers to the EHRC”. At that time, “Labour was in moral turpitude and political denial” and “had become an unsafe space for Jews”.

Under Sir Keir, in contrast, “Labour has moved with pace and with a rigour few expected, expelling antisemites and introducing a new independent disciplinary system to address all equality discrimination grievances.”

The JLM statement added: “JLM takes nothing for granted and will always be vigilant, ready to call out antisemitism without fear or favour… But the Labour Party we see today is unrecognisable from what the Party had become under Corbyn. Jews can once again call Labour their natural home and have no concerns about voting for it.”

In his speech, Sir Keir will conclude by saying that “the job of restoring Labour is not complete. I don’t see today’s announcement as the end of the road. I see it as a signpost that we are heading in the right direction.”

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