Katy Balls

Five things we learnt from the EHRC report

Five things we learnt from the EHRC report
Jeremy Corbyn (Photo: Getty)
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Over a year after the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched its investigation into anti-Semitism in the Labour party, the findings have been published. In what Sir Keir Starmer has described as a 'day of shame for the Labour Party', the report comes after years of allegations of anti-Semitism that dominated Jeremy Corbyn's time as Labour leader. 

In the build up to the report's republication, a number of Corbyn's closest allies attempted to put their side of the story out first. In a statement today, Corbyn claimed the scale of Labour's anti-Semitism problem had been 'dramatically overstated'. While the row over the episode is likely to rumble on for some time, here are five main takeaways from the report:

1. Labour responsible for three breaches of Equality Act

The equalities watchdog has found the party guilty of three breaches of the Equality Act (2010). These are: Political interference in antisemitism complaints. Failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints. Harassment. When it comes to the complaints received, the report finds that the party is guilty of two incidents of 'unlawful harassment through its agents'. The claims relate to former mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Labour councillor Pam Bromley with the equalities watchdog finding the party did commit harassment 'through its agents' with suggestions that the complaints were smears or fake.

2. Corbyn's office 'interfered' with complaints on 23 occasions

When it comes to failures in the handling of complaints, the EHRC report says there were 'multiple failures' in the process – many of which are directly linked to the Labour leader's office. The equalities watchdog says it identified 23 instances in which Corbyn's office and others directly interfered with complaints. 

3. Finger of blame pointed at Jeremy Corbyn

The report does not focus on the behaviour of specific individuals – with only Ken Livingstone and Labour councillor Pam Bromley named on the grounds that the party was legally responsible for their conduct. However, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is still having the finger of blame pointed at him. The EHRC's Alasdair Henderson has added that as the leader of the party – and with evidence of political interference from his office in the party's handling of complaints – Corbyn does 'have a responsibility ultimately for those failings'. 

4. Labour is not described as 'institutionally racist'

One of the concerns among Labour MPs in the build up to the report was that it would see the party deemed institutionally racist. So the absence of this phrase in the report has quickly been heralded by Corbyn allies as proof the problem was not as bad as some in the media made out. However, before any one gets too carried away, it's worth noting that the EHRC response to this is that the phrase is not in their terms of reference: 'It's not in the legislation that we enforce and it is not in our terms of reference. We're using different language and different terms'. 

5. Actions against individuals rest with Labour party not EHRC

One of the big questions in light of the report is whether there will be repercussions for figures high up in the Labour party machine at the time of these allegations. Many are asking if they can remain members of the Labour party. It's worth noting that the equalities watchdog believe rulings on individual behaviour is largely outside their remit. This means it's now up to Keir Starmer – who has accepted the reports findings – to decide if further action needs to be taken. When asked repeatedly at today's press conference whether Corbyn could remain in Labour, Starmer suggested he would not move against his predecessor – but said he was yet to read Corbyn's statement. Starmer's claim of 'zero tolerance' will be tested in the weeks to come. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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