Thousandsof Labour Party members have signed an open letter to Keir Starmer, Jennie Formby and the Labour NEC, demanding the party whip is withdrawn from former General Secretary (now Labour peer) Iain McNicol, and action is taken against party staff implicated in the leaked report; "The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 - 2019".
The letter, which party members can add their names to HERE, reads:
A Call for Action on Behalf of UK Labour Party Members and Voters
For the attention of Keir Starmer, Jennie Formby and all members of the Labour Party National Executive Committee,
We, the undersigned, as UK Labour Party members and voters, are a portion of those who have been shocked by the revelations made in the leaked report titled, "The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014 - 2019", compiled by the Labour Party in March 2020.
As committed anti-racists of all backgrounds, we abhor all cases of antisemitism that have come to light within the Labour Party. We thank the Party for its work in tackling antisemitism, while acknowledging the shortcomings that have brought so much pain to Jewish people of all political persuasions, both within and without the Labour Party. We also thank the Party for the difficult work it undertakes in responding to all issues of compliance, while acknowledging the further shortcomings we all encounter in what appears to be an increasingly intolerant climate. We wish not for this Open Letter to be a statement on anything other than the matters covered within the aforementioned report, as detailed in the items we address below.
Among other things, we note:
• That the report contains compelling evidence that Labour Party staff, including former General Secretary Iain McNicol, deliberately sought to obstruct the party from resolving complaints regarding antisemitism and other serious compliance issues, taking inadequate responses, exacerbating both the issues at hand and party factionalism; • That the report contains compelling primary evidence, including WhatsApp conversations between senior members of party staff, of a culture of racist bullying directed against black Members of Parliament. These include one instance where staff members talk about Diane Abbott "crying in the toilet" and gloat about leaking this to Channel 4 journalists. We emphasise that such actions as evidenced in the report trivialise the racialised abuse that black Labour MPs and activists disproportionately endure; • That the report contains abusive instant messages regarding the mental health of Labour activists, with one staffer writing, "I hope [a Labour Party member] dies in a fire," followed by others writing, "I wouldn't piss on [member] to put [them] out," and, "Wish there was a petrol can emoji"; • Labour Party staff discussed lifting the suspension of a former Labour MP who was caught sending text messages in contravention to the Sexual Offences Act of 2003 to a minor; • Labour Party staff shared gendered insults towards the then-lead of the Leadership's office, Karie Murphy, among others, including "crazy snake head lady", "Bitch face cow", "Smelly cow" and "Karie is actually fat too / There's a good old role [sic] in that photo"; • That of 170 or more cases of antisemitism concerning Labour Party members in a given period, just two were acted upon according to the "designed processes and authorised action"; • That, prior to 2015, compliance cases were dealt with "very slowly and in an ad hoc manner", including a case regarding transphobic and Islamophobic comments by writer Rod Liddle being "sat on" on account of him being "chummy" with then-MPs; • That clear cases of Islamophobia and anti-Gypsy, Roma & Traveller prejudice committed by Party members with official roles have not been acted upon; • Labour Party staff openly showed contempt towards their own sub-paying members, including one who claimed that, "Letting members have a say is the worst thing that happened to the Labour Party"; • Labour Party staff showed a particular hostility to supporters of the then-leader Jeremy Corbyn. Instances include an example of a woman "mounting a passionate defence of him [on Facebook]" which was responded to by another member of staff writing, "Find me screenshots & I'll have her sacked for breaching staff code of conduct"; • Labour Party staff endeavoured to sabotage the closely-run 2017 election campaign, evidenced through talk of leaking sensitive information, shirking staff duties, and belittling campaigners, MPs and the then-leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In response to these items, we demand that the UK Labour Party: • Takes seriously the evidence contained in the report, and acts to ensure that those implicated individuals, in light of the aforementioned actions, never again occupy positions of power and influence within the Labour Party and movement; • Continues to restore trust in those affected by the matters covered in the report, including the Jewish community, Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) individuals, women and individuals living with poor mental health; • Withdraws the whip from Baron Iain McNicol in the House of Lords for his involvement; • Commits to "throw open the books" and launch a review of the party's internal processes and structures with the aim of ensuring greater transparency and accountability from unelected party staff, rebuilding trust with the grassroots of the party and Labour voters, and ensure staff members are always working towards the election of a Labour government as per Clause One of our Constitution.
Finally we believe that if action is not taken to address these concerns then the party will not be in a state to win a General Election in or before 2024. As we know, returning a Labour government is not an easy task and it is made next to impossible when elements of the bureaucracy who oppose the Party's programme are willing to go as far as to sabotage the Party's electoral chances. For precarious workers, BAME and migrant communities, public sector staff, LGBT people, disabled people, and everyone else who wants to see a Labour government returned in 2024: action must be taken.
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