Steerpike

Corbynites react to the EHRC report

Corbynites react to the EHRC report
Jeremy Corbyn (photo: Getty)
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The Equality and Human Rights Commission released its report today on antisemitism in the Labour party – and it did not make pretty reading.

The report claims that the Labour party was responsible for three breaches of the law in its handling of anti-Semitism complaints after alleged ‘political interference’ in the process. It also found that Labour’s policies were ‘indirectly discriminatory and unlawful’ and this led, the report says, to:

‘A culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.’

Pretty damning stuff, you might think. But it appears that many Corbynites don’t agree with all the report’s conclusions. Here are a selection of their reactions below:

Rachael Swindon

Corbyn outrider and Labour activist Rachael Swindon wasted no time in looking for silver linings in the report. The upside the Corbynite found, was that the EHRC report did not say that Labour was ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’.

Which rather glazes over the fact that the EHRC was not looking for evidence of institutional anti-Semitism, but instead was seeing if the party had broken the law in its handling of complaints – which the EHRC says it did.

Matt Zarb-Cousin

Former Corbyn spokesman Matt Zarb-Cousin, meanwhile, attempted to focus on the fact that the Leader’s office had been reprimanded by the EHRC for speeding up the suspension of Ken Livingston from the party in 2016 – cited as an example of political interference in the process.

Interestingly, Zarb-Cousin seemed to skip over the part of the report which claimed that the Leader’s office had interfered in a complaint against Jeremy Corbyn, and recommended it be dismissed.

Aaron Bastani

Others attempted to minimise the report’s conclusions. Corbyn outrider Aaron Bastani noted that the EHRC found the Labour party had only broken the Equality Act twice by committing unlawful harassment.

Some of us might think that breaking the law twice is bad enough. Or point out that the report found there were a further 18 ‘borderline’ cases, where ‘there was not enough evidence to conclude that the Labour party was legally responsible for the conduct of the individual’ ie. the conduct still took place. Presumably that’s less helpful though to the Corbynite narrative…

Tommy Corbyn

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jeremy still had the support of one lifelong Corbynite: his son, Tommy. Though his claim that ‘whatever anyone writes in any report, this man is the furthest thing from a racist as it's possible to be’ probably won’t be of much comfort to Labour’s lawyers.

Chris Williamson

Former Labour MP Chris Williamson was also cheered by the contents of the EHRC investigation, as it did not find he had personally contributed to ‘unlawful harassment’ in the Labour Party.

Williamson’s response, that he’d been vindicated ‘despite the best efforts of the Israel lobby’ suggests that some lessons have not been learned though…

Owen Jones

The Labour activist Owen Jones perhaps had the wisest response of the Corbynites, and promised to read the report before commenting:

Jeremy Corbyn

And Jeremy Corbyn himself responded by saying he did not accept all of the report’s findings, and blamed the media for ‘overstating’ the scale of the problem.

‘One anti-Semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated’.

The media to blame yet again? Plus ça change…

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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