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Labour spokesperson decries 'party that was out of control'

Leaked report says rival factions in Corbyn’s Labour wielded antisemitism as weapon

Probe finds Corbynites believed allegations of antisemitism were designed to attack ex-party chair, while right faction saw the issue as a means to attack the left-wing leader

Jeremy Corbyn, left, sits waiting to speak next to Keir Starmer during their election campaign event on Brexit in Harlow, England, November 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Jeremy Corbyn, left, sits waiting to speak next to Keir Starmer during their election campaign event on Brexit in Harlow, England, November 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Antisemitism was weaponized by both the right and left factions of the Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, according to a leaked report published in British media on Tuesday.

The 138-page report by Queen’s Counsel Martin Forde found deep distrust and factional differences distracted the two sides of the party, impeding their ability to deal with antisemitism in their ranks and build effective election campaigns, the Guardian reported.

Forde charged that Corbyn supporters believed accusations of antisemitism to be exaggerated, while opponents of the former leader viewed the problem “as a means of attacking him.”

“Thus, rather than confront the paramount need to deal with the profoundly serious issue of antisemitism in the party, both factions treated it as a factional weapon,” Forde concluded.

UK Labour chair Keir Starmer, who succeeded Corbyn, requested the investigation in April 2020, after a leaked 860-page report concluded that no current or former staff were “motivated by anti-Semitic intent” and was said to have found “no evidence” of antisemitism complaints being treated differently from other forms of complaint.

The 2020 probe said there was a lack of “robust processes, systems, training, education, and effective line management” and claimed to have found “abundant evidence of a hyper-factional atmosphere prevailing in Party HQ” toward Corbyn, which “affected the expeditious and resolute handling of disciplinary complaints.”

Illustrative: Members of the Jewish community hold a protest against Britain’s opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, outside the British Houses of Parliament in central London, on March 26, 2018. (AFP Photo/Tolga Akmen)

However, Forde’s report argued that the issue was also present in the former opposition leader’s office, as supporters believed allegations of antisemitism were designed “simply as an attack on the leader and his faction.”

“In simple terms, each faction believed the other had ‘started it’ when it came to obstructionist behaviour and that they were only responding in kind,” it said.

Corbyn didn’t acknowledge his supporters’ role in the party’s failings in response to Forde’s probe, instead noting in an online statement that “powerful groups” in Labour found it “hard to come to terms” with his election to head the party, and decried the “racism and sexism” faced by members of the party.

Addressing the report, a Labour spokesperson said Forde’s findings detailed “a party that was out of control” and that “real progress” had been made since Starmer was elected leader.

The leaked report received a lukewarm response from Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl, who cited the report’s dismay that Jewish Voice for Labour had not been picked to enlighten the party on antisemitism.

While acknowledging the “marked improvement” in Labour’s attitude to antisemitism under Starmer, Zyl said: “We are troubled by the authors’ later expression that they are ‘disappointed’ that ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ —  an extreme fringe far-left organization that has obsessively denied antisemitism within the Labour Party — has not been granted a role in educating Labour members on antisemitism.”

President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie can der Zyl. (Courtesy)

In response to the Forde report, the Jewish Voice for Labour group stated that the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into the Labour Party in 2020 “made no finding that Jeremy Corbyn’s conduct was antisemitic; and both the EHRC and the Forde Report concluded that there was no attempt by the leadership to thwart the party’s efforts to investigate antisemitism. The EHRC’s finding was that indeed such ‘interference’ as there was tended to be attempts to expedite action as the Forde Report uncovered in relation to Ken Livingstone.”

JVL said it had published an analysis of the incidents described which provides context and, in some instances, directly refutes the apparent “evidence” completely.

Corbyn vowed to punish any party member caught making racist statements during his time as leader, yet he defended a number of members who made vitriolic antisemitic remarks and expelled hardly any members despite more than 850 formal complaints.

Corbyn himself drew vast criticism for his own actions. In 2019, he expressed regret for having defended a 2012 antisemitic mural in London’s East End. The mural, named Freedom of Humanity, was painted on a property near Brick Lane by the Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Kalen Ockerman. It depicted a group of men — seemingly caricatures of Jewish bankers and businessmen — counting their money on a Monopoly board balanced on the backs of naked workers.

Also in 2019, he was found to have authored a glowing foreword to a book that claims that Jews control global financial systems and describes them as “men of a single and peculiar race.”

In addition, the Hamas terror group has thanked Corbyn for his solidarity in recognizing Palestinian mourning over the 71st anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel.

Jeremy Corbyn (second from left) holding a wreath during a visit to the Martyrs of Palestine, in Tunisia, in October 2014. (Facebook page of the Palestinian embassy in Tunisia)

The now-former Labour leader has in the past been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. He later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.

Three years ago it emerged that in 2014 Corbyn attended a ceremony that honored the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre. He later said, “I was present when [a wreath] was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”

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