Britain’s equality watchdog believes the Labour Party may have “unlawfully discriminated against people” as it announced a statutory inquiry into the party.
An Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) spokesperson said: “Having received a number of complaints regarding antisemitism in the Labour party, we believe Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. Our concerns are sufficient for us to consider using our statutory enforcement powers. As set out in our enforcement policy, we are now engaging with the Labour Party to give them an opportunity to respond.”
No doubt Labour will now demand an inquiry into “Tory Islamophobia”…
UPDATE: It was the Campaign Against Antisemitism that submitted two detailed legal submissions to the Commission, assisted by specialist human rights counsel Adam Wagner of Doughty Street Chambers.
Their legal arguments were:
- An unacceptable number of antisemitic incidents of unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation have occurred in Labour in recent years. These have occurred at all levels of the Party and continue to occur.
- Under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, Labour’s disciplinary mechanisms for dealing with antisemitism have been significantly weakened, and the machinery of the Party has been used to victimise those who stand up against antisemitism.
- A culture of denial and victimisation has developed in some sections of Labour in relation to antisemitism. For example, antisemitism allegations are often described as “smears”.
- The result of the toxic culture which surrounds the issue of antisemitism in Labour is that people who suffer discrimination are subjected to victimisation when they raise complaints or are reluctant to bring complaints in the first place.
- Antisemitism in Labour should be judged according to the International Definition of Antisemitism, which has now been adopted by Labour as well as the other major political parties.
- Labour has failed to put in place a fair and effective complaints and disciplinary process to deal with antisemitism.
- There is substantial evidence that the problem of antisemitism in Labour has become institutional.
- Labour appears incapable of resolving this issue of antisemitism itself.
- There is sufficient evidence to warrant a section 20 statutory investigation by the Commission into whether systemic unlawful acts have occurred in the handling of complaints of antisemitism in relation to Labour officials, members and other representatives, and whether Labour is now institutionally racist.