A 13-point Labour plan to tackle the “crisis” of anti-Semitism within the party, recommends that investigations should be depoliticized, time-limited and more consistent, reveals a leaked document seen by the Huffington Post.
The document appears to admit that “political forces” may have had an impact on the outcome of investigations. The report suggests that the political inclinations of NEC members, who sit on the disputes panel, and the accused – have affected previous decisions on anti-Semitism cases.
It claims that Labour members have complained about consistency in the NEC dispute panel’s decision-making, saying: “There is a perception that cases are not dealt with in a consistent manner due to political forces influencing decisions with particular respondents particularly at the NEC Disputes Panel stage of the process.”
To tackle this issue, the report, drafted by the party’s anti-Semitism working group which includes Momentum founder Jon Lansman and Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti, recommends that “reports on antisemitism are anonymized when they are put to the 3 member antisemitism panel.”
These smaller 3 member anti-Semitism panels will be made up of “specially-trained investigators” that will allow for more disciplinary cases to be handled through written testimony rather than oral hearings. In addition, a new in-house lawyer will provide clearer evidence tests to standardize the process, creating enhanced transparency, it is claimed.
Labour appear to be trying to draw lessons from the recent spate of sexual misconduct allegations that have swirled around parliament’s corridors of power, which made political parties rethink their complaints procedures. The new anonymized system would work “in a similar way to how names are redacted from papers which go to the NEC Sexual Harassment Panel.”
The issue of anti-Semitism has engulfed Labour over the past couple of years, with accusations from pro-Israel factions within the party such as Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), as well as mainstream Jewish organizations and the press, that leader Jeremy Corbyn has failed to successfully tackle the perceived problem.
Supporters of the Labour leader such as the left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour, have suggested such accusations are politically motivated, and are not driven by a true determination to address anti-Semitism.
While comment from anti-Corbyn groups and individuals on the leaked documents has not, at the time of publishing been forthcoming, many grassroots members have responded to the recommendations with positive soundings on social media.
Impressive overhaul of Labour’s Antisemitism strategy by Jennie Formby. New procedures:
• Time Limited
• Specialised Investigators
• In House Lawyer
• Evidence Tests
• Option for Written Testimony
• Mandatory traininghttps://t.co/csRpYHscTu
— Socialist Voice (@SocialistVoice) May 30, 2018
Positive engagement on antisemitism by the Labour Party with the new Gen Sec doing in a month or so, what the old one failed to do in years https://t.co/hijdCa0A82
— The Awakend (@the_awakend) May 30, 2018
Sanctions to be imposed on those found guilty of charges brought against them, range from verbal “reminders of conduct” through to more formal warnings, suspension and mandatory anti-Semitism training.
The leaked document may well be welcomed by a whole range of groups and individuals that have been concerned at alleged instances of anti-semitism within the Labour Party. However, it will be interesting to gauge the reaction of Corbyn’s critics over the next few days to see if finally, they too, can embrace Labour’s fresh attempts to seriously address the issue.
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