“Justice, justice, you shall pursue”
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It has been quite a day. I remember clearly when our Head of Political and Government Investigations first came to see me about a little-known backbench politician who was seeking nominations to become leader of the Labour Party, which he then refashioned in his own image until it was institutionally antisemitic.
Today, that party is shamed for all time by the damning report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and the man who did more to mainstream antisemitism in Britain than any other in modern times is suspended, pending disciplinary proceedings.
It has been a long road. Campaign Against Antisemitism has been at the forefront of exposing Labour’s antisemitism in the media, but we were told that holding Labour to account legally would be impossible. We disagreed and referred the Labour Party to the EHRC and became the complainant in its unprecedented statutory investigation. Activist groups from within the Labour Party made further submissions which supported our referral.
Over many months, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s investigators and lawyers submitted hundreds of pages of evidence and argument to the EHRC in pursuit of justice. Our motto is the biblical injunction: “Justice, justice, you shall pursue”.
We were vilified, told to keep our heads down, and sent death threats, but we stayed the course, won the argument and faced down thugs online and in person.
Today, we have turned the corner.
In its unprecedented report, the EHRC found that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn committed unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination against Jews within a culture that was accepting of antisemitism. In other words, the Labour Party became institutionally antisemitic. British Jews have been vindicated at long last.
Sir Keir Starmer took the first step on the road to restoring Labour's reputation as an anti-racist Party today. It wasn't his assurance that he would implement the EHRC's recommendations or his promise to introduce a disciplinary process — both of which he has pledged in the past — but his decision to suspend Mr Corbyn, following a 72-page complaint we submitted to Labour this morning. For us and the Jewish community, we are coming full circle.
We made three complaints against Mr Corbyn in 2016 and 2018 — in addition to the one thousand complaints that many of you submitted at one of our rallies outside Labour headquarters — and they were all ignored or dismissed. Labour's disciplinary processes were shrouded in secrecy and corrupted by political interference, so we stopped making complaints altogether and turned to the EHRC. It was the failure to discipline Mr Corbyn that brought about the EHRC's investigation, and his suspension today, pending an investigation, is the most significant indication to date that Labour has changed.
But Labour's antisemitism problem isn't just about one man. As the EHRC's report showed, it was an institutional problem, with anti-Jewish discrimination and harassment at every level of the Party. For this reason, we submitted complaints today not just against Mr Corbyn but also fifteen other sitting MPs. We have given Sir Keir six months — until 29th April 2021 — to investigate each of these complaints under an independent, fair and transparent process. This is what it takes to tear out antisemitism “by its roots”, as Sir Keir has pledged to do. We will not settle for words without action, but we are willing him every success, and today has shown that he just might have what it takes to bring Labour back from the brink.
Below you can find some resources from today, including our statement on the EHRC's report, our thirty minute press conference reacting to the release of the report, our letter to Sir Keir detailing our complaints, our statement in reaction to the suspension of Mr Corbyn, and a small selection of our television interviews. You can also find more background, an explanatory video and more information at antisemitism.org/ehrc.
From everyone at Campaign Against Antisemitism, thank you to everyone who has stood by us throughout these years — our supporters, our volunteers, our donors. It is thanks to you that this day has come.
** Statement on the release of the EHRC’s report
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report is a groundbreaking document. It is the first ever finding by the EHRC of unlawful acts. It heavily criticises the Labour Party’s former leadership. It makes clear recommendations to ensure that there is zero tolerance of antisemitism in the Party in the future. It provides a robust framework for ensuring that the Party complies.
“The EHRC’s report utterly vindicates Britain’s Jews who were accused of lying and exaggerating, acting as agents of another country and using their religion to ‘smear’ the Labour Party. In an unprecedented finding, it concludes that those who made such accusations broke the law and were responsible for illegal discrimination and harassment.
“The debate is over. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party became institutionally antisemitic. It drove almost half of British Jews to consider leaving the country. For five miserable years, every effort to compel Labour to reform failed. We were left with no choice but to refer the Party to the EHRC, which launched an investigation with us as complainant. The EHRC’s findings and recommendations today – that Labour’s leadership and culture created an unlawful environment that discriminated against Jews – closely align with the hundreds of pages of evidence and argument that we submitted to the EHRC over many months.
“Frankly, this report would not be much different had we written it. It is the dispensing of British justice that British Jews have sorely awaited, but has been denied for too long.
“Jeremy Corbyn and those around him who took part in or enabled the gaslighting, harassment and victimisation of Britain’s Jewish minority are shamed for all time. Those who defended and stood by them are shown to have made possible the closest flirtation that mainstream British politics has had with antisemitism in modern history.
“Sir Keir Starmer now has a long list of reforms to make, including establishing an independent disciplinary process so that those who put Britain’s Jews in fear for their future in this country can at last be held to account for their deeds. To that end, we have submitted complaints against Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott and fourteen other sitting MPs and have given Labour six months to conduct transparent investigations and finally deliver justice for the Jewish community.
“We are immensely grateful to everyone who fought alongside us for this day to come. Too many of them have suffered greatly for their principles. They are the best of this country.”
CAA’s live press conference analysing the report
CAA’s complaint against Jeremy Corbyn and others filed immediately after the EHRC published its report
Read the full letter and complaint ([link removed][UNIQID])
** Statement on the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Glasman, Head of Political and Government Investigations at Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Shortly after submitting our complaint to Sir Keir regarding Jeremy Corbyn’s statement this morning and his past deeds, we have received confirmation that Mr Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour Party and had the whip withdrawn. This is a hugely significant turning point and an indicator of real change and accountability at last.
“We referred Labour to the EHRC precisely because it was not taking our complaints against Mr Corbyn seriously. Four years since our first complaint, Labour has finally begun to take action. Mr Corbyn is part of the problem, and at last our complaints against him and other sitting Labour MPs who seemed untouchable, are now being acted upon.”
Earlier this morning, others were busy describing Jeremy Corbyn as “yesterday’s man” who need not be disciplined. We were adamant and he was suspended shortly after we filed our disciplinary complaint. “Justice, justice, you shall pursue”.
We have spent the day making our case in the media and explaining what the Labour Party must do next.
When Jeremy Corbyn said that antisemitism allegations were overstated for political reasons, we explained to the country why that in itself is antisemitic.