The BBC’s Panorama has released a damning hour-long documentary with interviews from for Labour staffers detailing the anti-Semitism within their party and how Corbyn’s leadership team attempted to interfere with the disputes process. The hostility of the party’s leadership team left the head of complaints feeling suicidal.
Labour’s disputes team is supposed to operate independently from the party’s political structures. This includes interference from the leader’s office.
Eight former Labour officials – seven of whom worked in the party’s Complaints and Disputes Department, one of whom was the head of the department – spoke to Panorama about their experiences of dealing with anti-Semitism cases.
- The leader’s office was “angry and obstructive” when it came to the issue
- Officials brought in by Ms Formby “overruled” disciplinary decisions and “downgraded” punishments to a “slap on the wrist”
- Mr Milne laughed when advised by a long-serving party official about what Mr Corbyn should do to tackle anti-Semitism in the party
- On one occasion, Jeremy Corbyn’s office ordered batches of anti-Semitism complaints to be brought to his Commons office for processing by his aides
In emails leaked to Panorama, Seumas Milne, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest aides, told officials the party was “muddling up political disputes with racism” and must review processes.
And General Secretary Jennie Formby attempted to interfere in who sat on a panel examining a high-profile case.
Labour said there was no interference and that former staff making the claims were “disaffected”.
However, all the staffers who spoke to Panorama all explained how they felt treated by the leadership was abusive. One had a nervous breakdown. Another said he was suicidal.
The party’s deputy leader Tom Watson said he was “shocked, chilled and appalled” by the allegations and the party had “serious questions” to answer.
And other MPs commended the courage of those who had spoken out, Ruth Smeeth describing their testimony as “heartbreaking”.
It is important to note that Labour’s statements on this issue show no sign of acknowledgement for anti-Semitism within the party, instead they attack those making the allegations and try to smear them.
This is not surprising as the Labour leadership, including their aides, are made up of lifelong anti-Israel campaigners who do not see being anti-Zionist as being anti-Semitic. Corbyn himself espouses hatred towards Israel and does not see opposition to the existence of the world’s only Jewish state as racist.
Despite this damning report, it is highly unlikely that Labour will change its way under the current leadership. There is little hope for those trying to reform the party until they rid the party of the anti-Semites, and that starts with members of the leadership team.
For those not wanting to watch the full hour-long documentary or who don’t have access to BBC’s iPlayer, please see a shortened version on YouTube.