I am writing to you as the CLP’s black and ethnic minorities officer.
The debate on anti-semitism in the House of Commons on 17 April 2018 has shown a deeply felt disquiet about anti-semitism and the abuse and threats that dedicated parliamentarians have experienced. Watching and hearing from those who contributed to the debate, I was left feeling unnerved that this issue hasn’t been addressed with sufficient rigour and further progress needs to be made. It is not in question that anti-semitism is intolerably prevalent generally and also that this is being addressed with commitment.
It’s worth reminding ourselves of the recommendations made in Baroness Chakrabarty’s report following her inquiry in 2016. It concluded that the party “is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or other forms of racism,” but has suffered from an “occasionally toxic atmosphere” and “too much clear evidence [of] ignorant attitudes”.
Baroness Chakrabarti’s report contained twenty recommendations on tackling instances of racism, These included procedural rule changes to improve the party’s disciplinary process, the adoption and publication of a complaints procedure and the appointment of a general counsel to give advice on issues including disciplinary matters and to take responsibility for instructing external lawyers.
In her interview on Today on Radio 4 this week, Baroness Chakrabarti commented that the progress with implementation has been slow and not all her recommendations made in June 2016 had been implemented. She implied to the BBC there was still a “serious problem”, nearly two years after a report that she wrote for Jeremy Corbyn urging action to address an “occasionally toxic atmosphere”. But she said the new general secretary Jennie Formby had prioritised the issue. She added: “I think it is time to tackle some of the tropes that have been promoted on the left of politics as well as on the far-right of politics, particularly any confusion between anti-elitism and anti-Semitism. That really has to stop.”
Jewish groups, which demonstrated outside Parliament last month, have demanded urgent action – including the full implementation of the 2016 report.
All our party members should support full implementation of the 2016 report to be undertaken as a matter of priority.