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Labour anti-Semitism: Corbyn’s plan to go to ruling body

Jeremy Corbyn

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Jeremy Corbyn will present his plan to speed up the expulsion of members over anti-Semitism to Labour’s ruling body, the National Executive Committee.

On Monday, he told his MPs he wanted to “confront this poison”, but the process sometimes took too long.

A statement from the shadow cabinet said they supported the proposals, but still backed “independent oversight” as well.

However, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth said the proposals “simply aren’t good enough”.

Labour said eight party members were expelled in the first six months of 2019 over anti-Semitism allegations.

Some 625 complaints were also received in that same period.

Speaking to his shadow cabinet, Mr Corbyn said it was “wrong to deny there is anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and those who deny that it does exist are part of the problem”.

The current process for dealing with anti-Semitism allegations sees a disciplinary panel meet to examine claims. If they think there is a case against a member, they refer it to Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, which then has the power to suspend or expel individuals.

Critics, including deputy leader Tom Watson, have said the process takes too long and there should be an option to automatically expel people, while some members have also called for the process to be made independent from the party.

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Labour MP Ruth Smeeth said Mr Corbyn’s proposals “simply aren’t good enough”

Earlier this month, the BBC’s Panorama revealed claims from a number of former party officials that some of Mr Corbyn’s closest allies tried to interfere in disciplinary processes involving allegations of anti-Semitism.

Labour has rejected claims of interference in its disciplinary processes and described the Panorama programme as “seriously inaccurate” and “politically one-sided”.

‘Two options’

The options Mr Corbyn presented to shadow cabinet were:

  • Give the National Executive Committee’s anti-Semitism panels the power in the most serious cases to suspend or expel members, with appeals going to the NCC
  • Refer the most serious cases to a special NEC panel, including Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby, which would have the power to expel a member

He told the shadow cabinet he favoured the second option and it would allow for more rapid expulsion in the most serious of cases.

The shadow cabinet released a statement after the meeting, saying they backed his plan, but the issue of independence had not gone away – although there was a lack of clarification on what this would entail.

But Ms Smeeth said: “There is still no independence, in fact arguably political power over anti-Semitism cases is going to be consolidated by political supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

“The only way that people like me and actually people who are accused of anti-Semitism will have any faith in the process is if it’s not seen to be driven by party political or different factions of the Labour party.”

Mike Katz, the chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said he did not trust the National Executive Committee to act impartially.

“Nothing short of a fully independent process, first asked for by the Jewish community way back in April 2018, is even going to begin to suggest that the party leadership really cares about tackling institutional anti-Jewish racism,” he said.

The latest figures on anti-Semitism complaints

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Between January and June 2019, Labour received 625 complaints about members relating to anti-Semitism, and a further 658 complaints about people who weren’t in the party.

After six NEC meetings in the same period, the committee referred 97 members to the NCC over their cases, handed out 41 official warnings and a further 49 “reminders of conduct”.

And over those six months, the NCC expelled eight people, gave out three extended suspensions, and issued four warnings.

Another 12 members left the party after being referred to the NCC, and one member’s case was unproven.

A Labour spokesman said publishing the figures showed the party’s “commitment to transparency in its efforts to root out bigotry and racism”.

He added: “These figures provide a complete and accurate picture and demonstrate that we are taking decisive and robust action against anti-Semitism.”

Labour anti-Semitism: Corbyn’s plan to go to ruling body}

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