In our current circumstances, the immediate and long term impact of the COVID-19 outbreak must remain our primary focus. In particular:
- Support for our vulnerable members and the vulnerable in society more generally,
- the inadequacy of the Government’s response to it in a number of key areas,
- the economic impact that COVID-19 will have on the working people of Britain, and
- the threat of a Tory ‘austerity with a vengeance’ as the working class are expected to pay the cost.
Over the weekend several media outlets, including Sky News, Novara Media and The Guardian have disclosed and commented on an internal Labour Party report.
The report refers to the hyper-factional atmosphere in Labour Party HQ which appears to have affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints including those of antisemitism. It suggests that the Governance and Legal Unit (hereafter referred to as the ‘GLU’) did not develop appropriate processes and procedures to handle the large number of complaints including antisemitism complaints associated with the increased Party membership.
It uncovered many failings in the process for tackling antisemitism complaints before Jennie Formby, the current General Secretary, took over in 2018. The report reveals the contents of thousands of emails and WhatsApp conversations that disclose the outright antagonism of senior paid staff in the GLU and General Secretary’s office to the elected leadership, some MPs, and large parts of the membership of the Party. The report suggests that senior staff acted against the Labour leadership and therefore the Party in the 2017 election campaign and makes serious allegations about the use of funds.
Without detracting from the primacy of COVID-19, the content of the leaked report is so serious for the Labour Party now and into the future that it also requires our attention.
As Executive Committee officers, our response to the report is to endorse and support the demands of the 28 members of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs who issued this statement:
In light of the recent revelations about senior officials undermining the 2017 general election campaign, we, as members of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, make the following demands:
- The report should be published in full officially by the Labour Party.
- An emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting should be convened to discuss its contents.
- That NEC meeting must establish a transparent process to investigate the conduct alleged in the leaked document, with the terms of reference set by the NEC officers.
- This process must produce a report, that is publicly available, which restores faith among Labour members in the practices of our party.
We understand the disappointment and frustration that many Labour members will feel with the details revealed in this report. It contains revelations of senior officials undermining the 2017 general election campaign and suggests there are cases to answer on bullying, harassment, sexism and racism.
We express our solidarity with Labour volunteers who give up their spare time to fight for a better society and to get a Labour government.
We believe people must stay and fight for a Labour Government, organise to defend our socialist manifesto and push for action.
A joint statement has been published by the Leader and deputy Leader:
We have seen a copy of an apparently internal report about the work of the Labour Party’s governance and legal unit in relation to antisemitism. The content and the release of the report into the public domain raise a number of matters of serious concern.
We will therefore commission an urgent independent investigation into this matter. This investigation will be instructed to look at three areas. First, the background and circumstances in which the report was commissioned and the process involved.
Second, the contents and wider culture and practices referred to in the report. Third, the circumstances in which the report was put into the public domain.
We have also asked for immediate sight of any legal advice the Labour Party has already received about the report.
In the meantime, we ask everyone concerned to refrain from drawing conclusions before the investigation is complete and we will be asking the general secretary to put measures in place to protect the welfare of party members and party staff who are concerned or affected by this report.
There is useful comment on some of the wider implications of the issues raised in the report in an article by Jon Trickett and Ian Lavery:
This weekend’s revelations about the conduct of party staff in undermining the 2017 general election campaign and abusing elected representatives demand an immediate investigation.
Casual snobbery. Sexist and racist commentary. Clandestine plotting. Contempt for democracy. A sense of privilege and entitlement.
This is not the Bullingdon Club, it is what runs through the messages revealed in the leaked document which found its way online yesterday.
Many of its revelations are truly shocking.
It shows that some of the most senior employees of the Labour Party held its elected leadership in contempt, despised their own party members and even acted in a conspiratorial manner that undermined our 2017 general election campaign.
These were people at the top of the party with extensive knowledge and experience of elections. Their jobs were paid for with party funds. Yet, they entered the 2017 election hoping we would lose and setting up a shadow operation to protect their chosen sons and daughters.
To what extent did scheming and malfeasance stop us winning the Copeland by-election, the Birmingham or Tees Valley mayoralties?
In the end, we lost the 2017 general election by just a handful of votes. It is possible that the actions of these party staff denied us a Labour government that would have transformed millions of lives.
Clearly, there are also disciplinary implications to the report. It suggests there are cases to answer on bullying, harassment, sexism and racism. It implies that the battle against antisemitism in the party was undermined by a factional obsession with fighting ‘Trots’.
- Starmer to commission independent investigation into leaked antisemitism report – LabourList
- ‘The Leaked Labour Report Is Shameful – It’s Time for an Urgent Investigation’
- Anti-Corbyn Labour officials worked to lose general election to oust leader, leaked dossier finds | The Independent
- ‘Hostility to Corbyn’ curbed Labour efforts to tackle antisemitism, says leaked report | Labour | The Guardian
Amanda Bevan (Chair), Dick Scroop (Secretary), Helen Lewis (Vice-Chair), Aishah Ali (Vice Chair Membership), Michelle Binfield (Treasurer), Don and Barbara Gwinnett (Joint Campaign Coordinators)