A report into antisemitism in the Labour Party was leaked to the public on the 12th April, laying bare the inaction taken by the internal Party departments in response to complaints of racism and antisemitism by members.
The evidence in the 860-page report suggests that some employees of the Labour Party failed to deal with reports of antisemitism in the party despite the leadership’s desire to do so.
The report also indicates that certain staff in the Party, responsible for processing and acting on these complaints, were openly hostile to Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party and attempted to undermine him at several points.
Key figures within the party, including newly elected leader Keir Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner, have called for investigations into the conduct of staff, which has been branded as toxic and unacceptable by many members.
Among the report’s findings is the fact that, between 2015 and 2018, only 34 of over 300 complaints about antisemitism in the party were investigated at all, with the staff responsible falsely claiming that they dealt with every complaint given to them.
Communications between staff suggest that the cases were dealt with in a biased way, with individuals being treated differently depending on their opinion of the leadership.
The report also shows extensive communications between staff, which showed contempt for Jeremy Corbyn, his team and the membership of the party.
The party’s head of press and broadcasting, Jo Green, had once stated that Labour MPs who nominated Corbyn for leadership “deserve to be taken out and shot”, while another senior staffer, Emily Oldknow, used her influence to ensure her contacts were selected as candidates for elections and leaked sensitive information to the press, alongside former deputy leader Tom Watson.
Most importantly, the report reveals texts between senior staffers and the secretary of the party, Iain McNicol, that seemed to suggest sabotaging the 2017 election campaign (which Labour made huge gains in, but narrowly lost).
Staff joked about “working hard or hardly working” during the campaign, suggesting a “go slow” strategy as an obstacle to campaigning.
The same staffers plotted in anticipation of Corbyn stepping down from leadership after a loss in the 2017 election, with McNicol contacting deputy leader Tom Watson to prepare him to take on the leadership role.
Plans were also made to divert an additional £50,000 of campaign funds to Watson’s constituency in order to ensure he kept his seat.
In addition to extensive factionalism, the report also contains evidence of serious abuse against party members and MPs by Labour HQ staff.
A number of staffers mocked current deputy leader of the party, Dawn Butler, when she accused the party of racism against her and other members, calling her accusations untrue.
The same individuals mocked Diane Abbott, another Labour MP, calling her “truly repulsive” and even contacting journalists when one of them found her “crying in the toilets”.
The report concludes that antisemitism within the Labour Party exists without a doubt and is not dealt with appropriately, mainly due to factional and administrative problems within the Labour HQ rather than the leadership of the party.
The leaking of the report sent shockwaves throughout the party, with many members seemingly furious about the allegations of unelected individuals sabotaging elections which MPs and party membership worked hard to campaign for.
Prominent author, Guardian columnist and Labour activist Owen Jones tweeted that “[The Report] does show Labour staffers operated as an often vicious right-wing political faction who sought electoral destruction for the party which paid their salaries.”
As of the 19th of April, over a dozen people mentioned in the report are drawing up legal action against the Labour party, over claims such as libel and invasion of privacy.
As Keir Starmer begins work as the new leader of the largest party in Europe by membership, the fallout from this report appears to be a big test of his leadership.
Image: Benedict Pringle via political advertising.co.uk