Lindsey German's statement ahead of the EHRC report into antisemitism in the Labour Party
We will know shortly the results of the report by the EHRC into antisemitism in the Labour Party. The rumour is that it will not be too critical of individuals but will use 'strong language' in its conclusions. Keir Starmer has already said he will accept its conclusions - which may include complaints being dealt with by a body outside of the party, an incredible concession for any organisation to make.
We should examine these claims closely before accepting them. Whatever the exact phrasing of the report, we all know that criticisms will focus on one man, Jeremy Corbyn, and some of his closest advisers. This will be a green light for further attacks on Corbyn and the left which must be resisted.
Already he has been refused early sight of the report, which is almost unprecedented (those named in the Chilcot report had weeks to digest it and prepare their defences). Jeremy Corbyn will find out about it at the same time as the rest of us. This is only one small aspect of a process which has been utterly unedifying from start to finish.
The EHRC itself has the power to investigate especially where equality law has been broken, but to the best of my knowledge has never investigated a political party. Indeed it decided earlier this year not to investigate the Tories over Islamophobia, despite numerous instances of remarks by elected representatives and a poll which showed widespread Islamophobia among Tory members.
Today is about giving official imprimatur to the idea that Labour under Corbyn was antisemitic. It is a lie, but one which has been established through constant repetition, highlighted in a mainstream media which routinely perpetrates racist myths, including about Jews, and viciously weaponised by Labour's right.
Antisemitism in Labour existed and still exists, but it was a problem with a small minority of members. Much of the complaints concerned individuals who weren't members of the Labour Party, and over whom it had no control. Dealing with it was often slow, but improved when Jenny Formby became general secretary, and was, I know, taken seriously by those in and around the leadership. Shami Chakrabati produced a serious report to try to deal with it.
The issue was used as a political attack from the beginning, and the Labour left's mistake was not always to see this or to deal with it. The adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism was a mistake, and was used to further attack the left and raise many charges against them which were found to be without foundation. The left is further constrained from speaking out about this report as it may lead to their expulsion from Labour.
We should be clear on what the whole process was about. The very real fear of and opposition to antisemitism was used to weaken the left in general and to prevent speaking out in solidarity with the Palestinians. It is not the left which has equated criticism of Israel with antisemitism, it is the right.
Opposition to antisemitism, an awareness of the devastating scale of the Holocaust and its impact on Jewish people worldwide, and a recognition of the importance of the Jewish political and cultural contribution to our society are essential for any socialist. Such views do not prevent us from showing solidarity with the Palestinians or criticising the state of Israel. Indeed we have to be able to do all these things.
This issue has been weaponised by some to prevent that solidarity and that criticism, but they will not succeed.
They will not succeed in silencing Jeremy Corbyn either. My solidarity with him today. He has always been against all racism and in support of Palestinian rights. It shows what a twisted world we live in that someone with such a record should be calumnied in this way. The left needs to stand up and be counted here.
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As national convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, Lindsey was a key organiser of the largest demonstration, and one of the largest mass movements, in British history.
Her books include ‘Material Girls: Women, Men and Work’, ‘Sex, Class and Socialism’, ‘A People’s History of London’ (with John Rees) and ‘How a Century of War Changed the Lives of Women’.
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