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Jeremy Corbyn launches Labour's 2019 Manifesto.

Labour Anti-Semitism Report: pure dynamite

IT IS THE report that could blow the Labour Party apart. The news which came out on Easter Sunday has provided evidence that should send shock waves through Labour members and supporters – and could change the face of Labour in East London.

The news was broken on Sunday by Sky News political correspondent Tom Rayner. The Labour Party had held an internal inquiry into how its staff had handled allegations of anti-semitism against members, which had produced a report. The intention had been to submit this report to the Equality Commission, which is investigating the same issue. Rayner revealed that this report would not, after all, be handed over.

Rayner alleged that the reason for not handing over the Report was that the document had concluded that Labour Party officials had handled allegations of anti-semitism (and other complaints) incompetently and were factionally hostile to Jeremy Corbyn – but there was no cause and effect. It explained there was no evidence that allegations of anti-semitism were handled differently from other complaints – they were all mishandled, so there was no evidence of institutional anti-semitism. The initial response to this has to be: pull the other one. How could there not be cause and effect?

Rayner quotes extensive examples from the Report which shows the hostility that many party officers felt to Corbyn – and how they acted on the basis of that hostility. This angle was picked up in a report on the LabourList website written by its editor, Sienna Rodgers – a public website which often breaks news about party matters.

Rodgers quotes from the Report, showing party officials regularly discussing Corbyn and those considered to be his supporters in language which would make The Thick of It scriptwriters blush. She says that the Report prints what it says are quotes from party officials who express a desire to “hang and burn” Corbyn and who describe a female senior member of staff in his office as “a bitch face cow” whose face “would make a good dartboard”. There’s more.

It had to happen. Once Sky News and LabourList had revealed they had seen a copy of the Report, the Report itself began to leak across social media. Labour Party members up and down the country are spending their Bank Holiday Monday locked down and reading its 850 pages. It’s rich material, but let’s finish here by exploring the major issues – for the Labour Party and East London.

Incompetence or conspiracy?
No organisation as big as the Labour Party could be so full of incompetence that it cannot manage a bread and butter issue, a core function, such as handling complaints. It was not as if party officials were spending the working day playing fantasy football.  Many of them were spending a large part of their working days Whatsapp-ing and emailing each other with hate messages about Jeremy Corbyn and those who supported him. And the Report does have evidence that many officials were directly undermining Corbyn.

If the Report is accurate, we can only conclude that there was (is?) a Labour Party machine which regarded itself as a law unto itself, tasked with defending the Labour Party from Jeremy Corbyn. They worked in partnership with dissident MPs and against the membership.

How long has this been going on?
Hatred of Corbyn did not hatch the day he won the leadership contest. It grew out of a hatred of the left in general (of which, of course, Corbyn had been a part) which had endured over the preceding years. This is the party machine which introduced “special measures” into the Labour Party in Tower Hamlets. The measures were so special that for the best part of 20 years the membership in the borough was allowed to select its candidates for Westminster elections – but deemed too tainted to select its own candidates for local government elections. There was never a plausible public explanation of why this was the case. Is it time to call for the files to be opened and for members to be told the truth?

John Biggs at the 2014 Mayoral Count – surrounded by journalists who had written articles hostile to Lutfur Rahman.

The killer question

Same count, same journalists – but this time with Cllr Peter Golds

Over the last decade, there have been so many parallels between the undermining of Corbyn and the vendetta waged by Labour against Lutfur Rahman – the man selected by Labour members to be their candidate for Mayor but veto’d by the party establishment. There are so many strange elements about the involvement of Labour Party officials in Lutfur’s selection, by local members, and his removal by the party machine – too many to detail here. If the party machine was able to get away with undermining Corbyn, did it work against Lutfur too?

Is it time to call for the Labour Party files to be opened and for members to learn the truth? Do members deserve to hear what really happened about the selection of Lutfur Rahman, his removal as a candidate and the long campaign of vilification – including the investigation by Panorama (!) – put in place to undermine him? Does the local community deserve to hear the truth? If there is any evidence that party officials honed their undermining skills on Lutfur Rahman before Corbyn got near the leadership of the Labour Party, any enquiry would need to look not only at the Labour Party but also at the BBC, leading newspapers, the Local Authority – and the Courts.

•Read more about it:
Jeremy Corbyn gets the “Lutfur Rahman” treatment
Lutfur Rahman: is it time for a fair hearing?

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