Ken Livingstone is anti-Semitic

British Labor Party uprising over anti-Semitism

While the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats prepare the free choice of their new leaders, Britain's largest opposition party, Labor, once again has to deal with anti-Semites in its own ranks. As part of an extensive review, the independent human rights commission EHRC has now asked around 100 employees and officials of the party to comment and warned against disappearing relevant documents. After a critical BBC magazine article, the entire Labor leadership in the London House of Lords urged chairman Jeremy Corbyn to crack down on cracks: "Without full transparency, this cancer will continue to grow."

The core of the EHRC investigation, which has been ongoing since the end of May, is whether Labor "unlawfully discriminated, harassed or punished people because they are Jews," according to the agency that has been active for twelve years. During this period, only one public organization, London's Scotland Yard Police Department, was subjected to a comparable test. Labor was contacted after a number of complaints and a formal investigation was opened. This can take up to a year.

London's ex-mayor resigned

Since Corbyn's election as party leader in September 2015, Labor has tripled its membership and is currently the strongest party in Western Europe with around 540,000 members. Almost at the same time, complaints from Jewish members of parliament and organizations began about an increase in anti-Semitic incidents, mainly in social networks, but also in party meetings. It remains unclear whether the allegations are directed more strongly against new or long-term members.

Prominent cases do not allow any conclusions to be drawn. MP Naseem Shah was suspended for three months in 2016 after questioning the State of Israel's right to exist. In a debate on her case, London's long-time Mayor Ken Livingstone spoke of collusion between Zionists and the German Nazi regime in the 1930s - after a two-year suspension, he left the party.

That year, Corbyn ally and MP, Christopher Williamson, said his party had apologized far too often for anti-Semitism. His four-month suspension was lifted in late June and reinstated two days later. The Labor hierarchy justifies the mess with the omissions of the former Secretary General. Under his successor, Jenny Formby, four times as many proceedings had already been completed as before; In any case, the allegation affects only 0.06 percent of the members, which corresponds to a good 300 cases. There are no exact numbers. Opponents of the party leadership speak of deliberate abduction tactics, and they are also concerned about attempts by Corbyn's immediate circle to influence the nominally independent disciplinary system.

The latter allegation was made last week by eight former employees of the party involved in disciplinary proceedings in an article in BBC investigative magazine Panorama. The predominantly younger people (under 35) reported that their original enthusiasm for Corbyn's clearly left-wing course had given way to deep disillusionment. They were hardly supported, but were often hindered. Corbyn's spokesman Seamus Milne spoke of "dissatisfied former employees who wanted to cool their personal and political moods". Overall, the Labor leadership accuses the BBC of one-sidedness and demands an apology. An email from Milnes was reproduced in a distorted manner.

"He's not suitable to be a party leader"

This reaction, in turn, has not only brought on the prominent House Lords, led by Angela Smith, but also a group of 200 former and current Party employees. All of them are calling for a reform of the disciplinary system, including the immediate exclusion of criminals from the party. Only then can the party regain the trust of members and the public, it is said.

Prominent members of the shadow cabinet, such as foreign policy spokeswoman Emily Thornberry, are on the same page. Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer wants to use the EHRC investigation as an opportunity for complete transparency: "We should not entrench ourselves in the wagon castle."

Several members of the lower house and last week also three members of the upper house left the parliamentary group with reference to the inadequate approach of the party leadership against anti-Semites in its own ranks. The fact that Luciana Berger, Ian Austin and Lord David Triesman all belong to the camp of die-hard Corbyn opponents has raised suspicions among party leftists that it is only indirectly about the racism problem, but much more about Corbyn himself. This indirectly confirms this Lord Toby Harris, who has known the comrade "for 47 years" from working together in the north London district of Haringey: Corbyn is "a brilliant activist, but he is not a good party leader". (Sebastian Borger from London, July 18, 2019)