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The Telegraph

Labour accused of ‘letting off anti-Semitism’ after failing to expel members

Labour has been accused of “letting off anti-Jewish racism” after a complaints-handling handbook was published that gave examples of tolerating anti-Semitic behaviour. A 33-page copy of “The Labour Party’s Complaint Handling Handbook” posted online and obtained by The Telegraph gave examples of seven different complaints and set out how the party responded in each instance. The handbook gave just a single example of a member being expelled – although the example was not linked to remarks about Jews.

It comes on the 12-month anniversary on Sunday of Sir Keir Starmer replacing Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Last December Labour published a new plan for handling anti-Semitism in the party approved by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. One case study in the handbook described how “a Labour Party member posted several articles on social media promoting conspiracy theories suggesting that Jewish people were responsible for real and imagined wrongdoings.

They also posted articles that minimised complaints of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.” The handbook said: “After investigation, it was concluded that no Labour Party rules were specifically breached but a Reminder of Conduct was issued to the member.” In another instance the handbook describes how “a Labour Party member posted online the details of an email they’d sent which presented emotive, personal views including that the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour for Israel groups had no validity and should be disbanded. They refused to retract those views.” It says: “After investigation, a formal warning was issued against the member and they were told it would remain on their record for 18 months. Following this, they resigned their membership.” In a third case “a Labour Party member posted and shared several things on social media that were anti-Semitic; using Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine.” It continued: “After investigation, a formal warning was issued to the member and they were told it would remain on their record for 18 months.” In a fourth instance “a Labour Party member responded to a social media post in a way that served to repeat anti-Semitic tropes”.

It said: “After investigation, it was concluded that no Labour Party rules had specifically been breached but a reminder of values was issued to the member.” The handbook gave just a single example of a member being expelled – although the example was not linked to remarks about Jews. It cited how “a Labour Party member posted on social media and responded to others’ posts demonstrating views that were xenophobic, anti-Catholic, transphobic and abusive. They also posted insulting and abusive comments about people with disabilities and victims of sexual abusive.” The handbook said: “The member was administratively suspended at the outset, and following investigation, was expelled.” Critics said Labour had to do more to tackle anti-Semitism.

Lord Austin of Dudley, a former Labour MP and chairman of the anti-extremism campaign Mainstream, said: “The new Labour leadership need to do much more to tackle Jeremy Corbyn’s terrible legacy. “The pace is too slow, there is much more to do and people with views like this can’t be tolerated. They have to be kicked out.” Euan Philipps, a spokesman for Labour Against Anti-Semitism, added: “The disciplinary measures applied to the four examples of anti-Semitic conduct are insufficient and fail to meet the benchmark of ‘zero tolerance’. “In our view all four examples should have resulted in expulsion. If they are indicative of the wider approach then they are very concerning, and it is difficult to see how this will lead to a long-term change of culture within the Labour Party. “In light of the EHRC findings about Labour anti-Semitism and the length of time Starmer has had to address the issue, letting anti-Jewish racism off with a warning shows that Labour’s new Complaint Handling Handbook is a step backwards.” Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said: “These inappropriate comparisons to the Holocaust belittle the memory of this appalling tragedy and are an insult to the survivors and their families.

It is about time this sort of thing is dealt with. A slap on the wrist will not do.” A Labour spokesman was approached for comment on the criticism of the handbook. In the introduction to the handbook, the party said: “We encourage people to report behaviour by our members that may constitute a breach of our rules or does not reflect our shared values. “We take all such reports seriously and look to investigate and resolve these matters in the most appropriate way.” A Labour Party spokesman said: “This handbook was published as part of the action plan we agreed with the EHRC. “The cases highlighted refer to previous decisions which do not reflect the current approach of zero tolerance to anti-Semitism. “Under Keir Starmer’s leadership, we are continually improving and strengthening procedures to root out antisemitism from our party.” Sources said that “the cases highlighted were examples of past decisions.

They were used to illustrate how the process operated, as required by the EHRC, not as any form of recommended course of action. “We are working extremely closely with Jewish stakeholders and the EHRC to strengthen these processes. “The party has determined more cases in the period since Keir Starmer became leader than were determined throughout the entirety of 2019 or throughout the period of 2014-2018 combined.”

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