The Labour Party is being formally investigated by the UK’s human rights watchdog to determine whether it has “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish.”
Regulator the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has today (May 28) announced that it will conduct a formal inquiry into The Labour Party after receiving “a number of a complaints about allegations of anti-semitism in the party”.
“We have carefully considered the response we received from the party and have now opened a formal investigation under section 20 of the Equality Act 2006 to further examine the concerns,” the EHRC said in a statement.
“We are pleased that The Labour Party has committed to co-operate fully with this investigation.”
Human Rights Probe A ‘Truly Shameful Indictment’
…Last year we took the unprecedented step to refer the Party to the @EHRC, and we welcome their decision today to launch a full statutory inquiry.
Mike Katz, JLM National Chair
— Jewish Labour Movement (@JewishLabour) May 28, 2019
Mike Katz, The Jewish Labour Movement’s national chairman, has welcomed the EHCR investigation.
He tweeted: “For years we have been warning that the Labour Party’s response to antisemitism within our ranks has been woeful at best, and institutionally racist at worst.”
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, added: “We note that the last party to face a racism probe from the EHRC was the British National Party, which is a truly shameful indictment.
“In the past four years we have seen a large number of cases of anti-Semitism throughout the party from bottom to top.
“Despite the Jewish community demonstrating in their thousands outside Parliament, this has still not been addressed seriously by the party leadership.”
‘Implacably Opposed To Anti-Semitism In Any Form’
Image Credit: Sophie J. Brown/Wikimedia Commons.
Responding to the EHRC’s announcement, a Labour Party spokeswoman said: “Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and is implacably opposed to anti-semitism in any form.
“We reject any suggestion that the party does not handle anti-semitism complaints fairly and robustly, or that the party has acted unlawfully, and we will continue to cooperate fully with the EHRC.
She added: “There has been a deeply worrying rise in anti-semitism in the UK and across Europe.
“We are taking action to root it out of our party by strengthening our rules and procedures.
“But the issue can only be properly dealt with by all political parties working together to protect the interests of the Jewish community and to combat racism in politics, the media and in society more broadly.
“That includes the need for the Conservatives and other parties taking action to deal with racism in their own ranks.”
There has been a deeply worrying rise in anti-semitism in the UK and across Europe. We are taking action to root it out of our party by strengthening our rules and procedures
Labour Party Spokeswoman
The spokeswoman said that the party supports the efforts of the EHRC to draw attention to the obligations all political parties have under the Equality Act.
She added that the EHRC’s ability to do so has been undermined by a 70 percent budget cut since 2010.
“Labour is the party of equality and in government we will strengthen the powers and functions of the commission,” she said.
The Conservative Party Also Faces Possible Probe Over Islamophobia
Image credit: Number 10/Flickr
Earlier this month, ITV News reported that the EHRC had also formally written to the Conservative Party after receiving complaints of allegations of Islamophobia within its ranks. The party has been given one month to respond to the request for more information.
A Conservative spokesperson told ITV that the party “will always be happy to work with organisations who support equality, tolerance and human rights.”