So the unity within Labour has lasted all of five seconds after what can only be described as a draft report intended to be submitted as an appendix to other documents in connection to the EHRC investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party was leaked online after party lawyers vetoed the submission. Measuring some 850 pages it’s a historical narrative put together by the departing left-aligned leadership and its staff, potentially as late as the end of the leadership contest that only ended last weekend given some dates of sources, that details how the Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) within the Labour Party handled complaints since 2014 to the present. The report as a whole concludes that there was a notable problem with antisemitism in the Labour party that grew after the surge in membership from 2015 onwards, that categorisation of said problem as a “witch hunt” or “smears” was denialism of fact, that the party’s internal systems were rife with factionalism and simply not fit to handle any complaints made during the period and not just those related to antisemitism, and that the Jewish community had many reasons to doubt the party in that period.
What has stolen the spotlight however are certain passages in the first 170 pages that detail IM conversations between then high-ranking members of the team going so high as the general secretary of the party at the time Ian McNicol (calling themselves the Future Planning group), all of whom are regarded as being on the extreme-right of the party, that seemingly display deliberate malpractice bordering on sabotage regarding the handling of the leadership elections in 2015 and 2016 along with their hopes of failure in the 2017 General Election.
I’ve spent the last couple of days reading through a complete copy of the document I managed to grab hold of before links starting dying and from reading those pages I can’t help but agree with the outrage at what was being discussed in those messages ranging from outright discussions of having people they didn’t like set on fire (inc. Corbyn himself), essentially far-right language regarding Islam as a threat to the country, misogyny and sexism towards female “trots” about how they dress, mocking of mental health issues of activists they didn’t like, talk of “working to rule” and trying to get redundancy payouts from that after Corbyn got in during 2015, and discussions of how to force people with different political views out of positions. It also details in depth that despite the widely-held belief amongst the Leader’s Office (Corbyn’s group) and backers for the last few years that it was the MPs (PLP) led by former MP Tom Watson conspiring against them instead this Future Planning group viewed the PLP as incompetent, lacking backbone, and incompetent so were deliberately not involved in the machinations the document entails. If taken at its word it essentially reveals that any conspiracy was not coming from elected representatives in the party but hired staffers who are by principle expected to be neutral.
What is also present however outside of the headline grabbing central allegations is what can only be described as rather petty score-settling content included by the authors, such as a section describing how the GLU was nepotistic by recruiting their friends from right-aligned groups like Labour Students before ending with a whole page explaining why the son of a prominent pro-Corbyn faction leader should’ve gotten a job there, self-deprecating jokes at a retirement party by a retiree and another expressing self-doubt when suggested to go for a job twisted as proof they shouldn’t have held those jobs and only got them corruptly, a list of what the author calls “frivolous” suspensions of left-aligning members that includes the example of someone spreading rumours of a “right-wing” Labour staffer they didn’t like being involved in illegal drugs, extreme claims regarding the courts not trusting party officials with footnotes that literally read “need source”, some evidence used against the GLU by the authors also discussing data protection breaches by the leader’s office that are not commented upon by the report, and some rather severe cherry-picking of sources including a repeatedly-used quote from a podcast appearance by a former officer in the Jewish Labour Movement that appears to be blaming the GLU for antisemitism and vindicating the Corbyn left... only to cut off the end of the quote that not only blames the Corbyn faction for the antisemitic conspiracy that the 2016 challenger Owen Smith was “controlled by zionists” but also that the JLM officer believes Corbyn himself has problems with Jewish people.
Despite furious messages from supporters of the now former leadership this report proves beyond doubt there was no fault by them (with some linking Starmer to the GLU despite having no involvement with them at any point) and there was only the sinister conspiracy and denials already appearing from those in the Future Planning group (many if not all of whom left the party some years ago now) despite the clear evidence contained within of abusive messages they sent the only clear picture that comes across from this in combination with all the shit that emerged over the years including loyalty lists, questionable hirings, threatened strikes over abuse by managers, and frequent anonymous sources briefing the traditional media and random bloggers is that for at least the last five years the vast majority of due-paying members of the party, regardless of political persuasion, have been paying money in good faith to an organisation they expected to represent their interests instead saw unelected paid staff, required by code of conduct to carry out the wishes of the elected officials, have instead wasted that money on petty factional fights that have allowed individual members to be abused, entire communities to be ostrachised, and the conservatives to remain in power.
The new leadership have already announced an independent inquiry into this affair, to look at the precise origin of the report and why it was vetoed by lawyers, the allegations detailed within it and wider culture of the “staff-side” of the party, and how exactly this report was leaked unredacted to the internet to the point I could download the entire thing from some random twitter user’s feed before people named in it had a chance to read it.
Of course the ultimately distressing thing for the Jewish Labour community will likely be that an 850 page report that was meant to help clarify and resolve the issue of antisemitism within the party has instead reignited old conflicts between factions where antisemitism was merely a convenient battleground to be used and discarded on a whim.