Sir Keir Starmer has called the publication of the EHRC’s report into antisemitism “a day of shame for the Labour Party”.
A long-awaited review, published this morning by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, identified “serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints.”
Labour was found to have made three breaches of the Equality Act (2010), relating to political interference in antisemitism complaints, failure to provide sufficient training to those handling those complaints and harassment.
The investigation, the EHRC said, “points to a culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to precent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.”
It found concrete evidence of political interference in the complaints process, citing 23 instances of inappropriate involvement by the Leader of the Opposition’s Office (LOTO) and others.
‘I am truly sorry’
Speaking at a press conference, Starmer vowed to implement all recommendations from the EHRC “at the earliest possible opportunity”.
“I found this report hard to read,” Sir Keir said. “It is a day of shame for the Labour Party. We have failed Jewish people, our members and supporters, and the British public. So, on behalf of the Labour Party, I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused.”
Addressing the Jewish community, Starmer said: “Never again will Labour let you down. Never again will we fail to tackle antisemitism, and never again will we lose your trust.
“The Labour Party I lead accepts this report in full, and without qualification. We will implement all recommendations, and we will implement them in full. That process starts today.”
Starmer’s intervention came minutes after his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn responded to the report by lashing out at “opponents inside and outside the Party” and the media, who he claims “dramatically overstated” the issue for “political reasons”.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Corbyn said that reform of the Party’s complaints process was “stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy” and that the system was “not fit for purpose” when he became leader in 2015.
“The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media,” he added. “That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.”
Addressing reporters, Starmer said that, under his leadership, “zero tolerance of antisemitism will mean precisely that. If you’re antisemitic, you should be nowhere near this party. And we’ll make sure you’re not.
“If, after all the pain, all the grief and all the evidence in this report there are still those who think that there is no problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party – that it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack – then frankly you are part of the problem too, and you should be nowhere near the Labour Party.”
At his press conference, Starmer was repeatedly asked whether Corbyn should be expelled from Labour. Equivocating somewhat, he vowed to “look carefully at what Jeremy Corbyn has said” in response to the EHRC’s findings.
“Those who deny there is a problem are part of the problem,” Starmer added. “Those who say it is exaggerated or factional are part of the problem.”