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Jerry Richardson July 29, 2022

Labour’s shameful response to the Forde report

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Following the publication of the long awaited Forde report, it has become plainly clear that the Labour Party intends to sweep its findings under the rug. The Forde Inquiry, commissioned by the Labour Party in 2020, investigated the extent of bullying, racism, misogyny, and discrimination within the Party, the allegations that senior Labour staff sought to undermine the party’s chances of electoral success in 2017 and the claim that factional hostility towards Jeremy Corbyn hindered efforts to handle complaints of antisemitism. 

 

Both factions, as well as the media, have been quick to cherry-pick quotes and frame the report in a way that reinforces their own position, while ignoring some of the more damning conclusions reached by the inquiry; that there is a “hierarchy of racism” within The Labour Party that the current leadership has failed to deal with and that factionalism is so “deep-rooted that the party has found itself dysfunctional.

 

Starmer is in denial

In an interview with BBC Merseyside on Tuesday, when asked about the Forde’s conclusions, Keir Starmer responded by saying:

 

“What the Forde report shows is how dysfunctional the Party was under Jeremy Corbyn because it was a report on what the situation was two years ago. I didn’t need the report to tell me we needed to take action. I’ve been taking action in those intervening two years. Obviously we will reflect on everything in the report and where we need to make further changes we will, but I didn’t need the report to tell me that I needed to change the Labour Party.”

 

In June 2020, in an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Starmer denied the existence of a hierarchy of racism within the Labour Party, a clear indication that he either did not know what changes needed to be made or did not consider them important enough. He said ”On anti-racism, as soon as that internal report was leaked myself and Angela Rayner set up an independent inquiry… And that inquiry will go wherever the evidence leads it. We will act on it as soon as we get a report.” 

 

It has been over week since the Forde report was published and Starmer is yet to acknowledge Forde’s conclusions. The report reads: “The Party’s more recent steps to address the problems with antisemitism, for example, have not been matched by a commitment to tackle other forms of racism, nor by a full-scale effort to get its house in order as an employer… This is the least we could expect from a party committed to anti-discrimination.”

 

MP for Edmonton Kate Osamor called Starmer’s response to the Forde report a “kick in the teeth” and in a recent article with OpenDemocracy said “Rather than acknowledging the findings, issuing an apology to those affected, sanctioning the individuals involved and publishing a plan to rid the party of racism, Starmer took to the radio to disregard the report altogether.”

It’s hardly surprising that Starmer’s immediate response was to undermine Forde, given the $1.3 million that The Labour Party allegedly spent pursuing the leakers of the original report, who have been largely vindicated by Forde or the six figures that Labour paid to the so-called BBC whistleblowers, which the Forde report has revealed to be entirely unjustified and particularly given how far to the brink Starmer has brought the Party towards bankruptcy. He has put more weight behind trying to uncover the whistleblowers behind the leaked internal document than he has towards trying to address the racism highlighted within the report itself.

 

The Guardian reports that, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane Abbott said: “In a private sector organisation people who were as blatantly racist as this would be disciplined, if not sacked. Instead, Starmer commissioned the Forde report and deliberately sat on it for two years hoping people would forget.”

 

Following on from his line on BBC Merseyside that ‘it’s all been taken care of’ Starmer proceeded to pat himself on the back for his progress on antisemitism, completely ignoring that Forde concluded antisemitism had been used as a factional weapon by both sides of the Party and then went on to talk about the Labour Party’s stance on NATO and the steps he has taken to become “pro-business”, neither of which fall into the Forde inquiry’s terms of reference or are mentioned anywhere in the report. 

 

 

Media indifference

It’s very telling, given the indifference Starmer has shown to the issue of anti-racism that he has yet to be adequately challenged on it. Only a week after Starmer and Lammy used the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin for a photoshoot, an official Inquiry reported that antisemitism had been weaponised and used for political point scoring. On 11 July, Starmer tweeted, “with my leadership, the Labour Party will continue to fight to tackle all forms of prejudice, discrimination, hatred and intolerance” and then ten days later an official Inquiry reported on the hierarchy of racism in the Labour Party, which Starmer had previously denied the existence of

That the campaign against the Labour left and Jeremy Corbyn for accusations of antisemitism is not being deployed in even a fraction of the same way by the media, regarding anti-Black racism or Islamophobia, against Starmer or the senior Labour staff whose text messages were exposed by whistleblowers in the leaked internal report, suggests that the “hierarchy of racism” that exists within the Labour Party is reflective of a wider trend amongst the general public, which shows exactly why the Labour Party under its current leadership is incapable of tackling ‘discrimination in all its forms’.

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