The Forde Report and the Lessons of the Corbyn Years
TONIGHT – WEBINAR 6 pm
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This is an extremely last minute response to the Forde Report which has just been issued, all 138 pages of it by the Labour Party after it ran out of excuses for delaying it any further.
The Report itself leaves a lot to be desired in terms of accessibility. Although it is searchable, it is impossible to copy text from it making it difficult to compile a quick report. I have therefore resorted to print screening from it!
My initial view is that it could have been worse but that in accepting certain key points of our, that anti-Semitism has been weaponised against the left and that the mass expulsions were aimed solely at Corbyn supporters, that it provides in the end a cover for the behaviour of the Right.
In particular it exonerates the Right’s ‘defensive strategy’ which was aimed at protecting the seats of right-wing Labour MPs whilst refusing to support Labour MPs in marginals who were on the left or candidates who were standing in Tory marginals.
The Forde Report administers the mildest slap on the wrist to those members of Labour’s senior staff who ran a separate campaign in essence from Ergon House with £135,000 illegally diverted. All it says is that ‘whilst not illegal, it departed from the approved strategy, it was as such wrong.’
The Report says nothing about staff who wanted a Tory victory. It does its best to gloss over the mass of racist, sexist and abusive comments on Labour’s senior staff.
There is nothing about the suspension of Brighton and Hove Labour Party (or Wallasey) because of alleged spitting at the largest AGM it had ever had where the Right was defeated 2-1.
Brighton and Hove Labour Party was suspended on July 11th 2016. Karen Buckingham was appointed to investigate. Was she a neutral investigator? This is the transcript of her conversation with John Stolliday, a vicious right-winger in charge of the Compliance Unit as recorded on p.113 of Labour’s Leaked Report
In July 2016, for example, the “pro-Corbyn” left decisively won Brighton CLP’s annual general meeting (AGM). Local Momentum activists organised to all gather at a certain place, then go to the AGM itself. In July 2016, Stolliday discussed overturning Brighton CLP’s AGM with Buckingham:
overturn AGM, deal with individuals. Shows what we’re up against – a bunch of SWP & Trots marching straight from a rally to invade a CLP meeting and stuff handfuls of ballot papers in boxes even when they;re not members of the party
Buckingham said: “I say act now and worry about [rules and legal issues] later, so long as we don’t do something that’ll end up fucknig everything else up”.
The main points
From the start Starmer and the Right didn’t want this report but he was forced to commission it. However he stuffed it with supporters including Baroness Royal who ‘investigated’ the fake allegations of anti-Semitism at Oxford University Labour Club. She seems in the interim to have recused herself.
When the Forde Report started there were immediate threats of legal action made – however it does not name anyone.
The Report finds that evidence of discriminatory behaviour was widespread but it doesn’t do the obvious and locate it in the senior right-wing staff.
It does make the point that ‘Some protected characteristics more important than others’ but it never asks why ‘anti-Semitism’ was more important than say anti-Black racism.
It says that the Whatsapp messages ‘reveal considerable Antipathy to LOTO by staff’. Well that was putting it mildly.
It rejects the allegation that there was sabotage of the 2017 election campaign by the staff (p.6)
However it repeatedly makes the argument that there was an ‘anti-Semitism’ problem. It points to how the ‘Authors of leaked report accepted that anti-Semitism was a problem.’ p.6 describing this as ‘a mature acknowledgement of problem’
It goes on to say though that ‘sadly though still some deny existence & seriousness of the problem’. Yet at no point does it explain what this ‘seriousness’ amounts to and it therefore in practice rules out the idea that there was a deliberate strategy of employing ‘anti-Semitism’ as a weapon against the Left.
Instead it accepts that ‘some opponents of Corbyn saw anti-Semitism as means of attacking him’ when it is obvious that all Corbyn’s opponents from the Daily Mail to the Guardian to Tom Watson and the Hodge saw it as a wedge issue.
The Report does accept that the Disciplinary Process was not fit for purpose (p.7)
‘there appear to be no published procedures re use of administrative suspension, without clear criteria
One of the problems with the Report is that it completely ignores the current climate and expulsions in the Labour Party under Starmer. The least it could have done was to call for an immediate freeze in all disciplinary processes and also the reversal of all expulsions under Starmer. But this of course was beyond its remit.
Instead we have had a wave of proscriptions of organisations like Labour Against the Witchhunt and people expelled for the ‘crime’ of having joined LAW in 2017 even though it was not an offence then. That is why the Forde Report is largely irrelevant. Instead it says:
Party leaders have consistently recognised that party is broad church or it is nothing
Section A1.4 talks about the ‘shocking and wholly inappropriate attitudes among senior staff’ but it says nothing of they were colluding with i.e. right-wing Labour MPs.
Section A4.4 talks about legal threats which were made but they never say who made those legal threats?
It says that (A4.6) in contrast to the membership who submitted evidence ‘some key figures within Labour Party were silent’. Again it doesn’t say who. It goes on to say that ‘Certain prominent members of party refused to meet panel or its requests for evidence’. Again no names were given.
But then Section A4.8 says that ‘Equally troubling was the frequent evidence of ‘denialism’ in relation to the seriousness of the problem of ‘anti-Semitism’. And this is the key problem with the Report. Yet it says that
‘some anti-Corbyn elements of the party seized upon anti-Semitism as a way to attack Jeremy Corbyn’
But instead of spelling it out the Report resorts to a cowardly and fatuous ‘both sidism’:
‘both sides weaponising the issue’ and failing to recognise the seriousness of anti-Semitism
So let us say it again. As Starmer has proved with his expulsions of Jewish Labour Party members, at a rate 5 times as high as that of non-Jews. This is what the ‘anti-Semitism’ nonsense amounted to. So to repeat it once again.
On page 21 it says that ‘There is nothing in the Leaked Report to support the conclusion that the problem of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was being overstated.’
There is also nothing in the Leaked Report to suggest that anti-Semitism was a problem either. It found a grand total of 2 holocaust deniers out of 600,000 supporters!
Anti-Semitism was NOT a problem in the Labour Party and that was why the targets became Jews primarily. The problem was always anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians. That is why anti-Semitism itself was redefined as hostility to Zionism and the State of Israel by adopting the IHRA definition of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Section A4.10 describes what happened as ‘factionalism’ and says that this caused the Labour Party to fail its supporters. Again I reject this. The problem is that the Left, and in particular Corbyn and those around him tried to appease rather than fight the Right.
Even more pathetically, the Forde Report bemoans that the ‘authors of comments in the Leaked Report’ were not given right of reply. Some of would say that they had already s said far too much!
Again when it came to the abusive staff led by Iain McNicol all it says about staff neutrality (c.1.8) is that ‘a majority of staff didn’t see their role as requiring perfect neutrality’. Well that is one way of putting it! Section c1.14 says that ‘a few members of staff saw their role as to keep party machinery running whilst allowing Corbyn project to implode.’ Again wherever possible the Report goes out of its way to protect the abusive and racist senior staff.
Other Points in the Forde Report
It takes for granted that what Ken Livingstone said and his suspension and forcing out of the Party was based on ‘anti-Semitism’. Yet it wasn’t. It was unjust from the beginning.
There was nothing in the Forde Report about the expulsions of Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth or myself. Yet none of us were expelled for anti-Semitism. We were targeted by the Jewish Labour Movement. Yet there is no criticism of the JLM, a socialist society that calls the racist Israeli Labor Party a ‘sister party’.
Martin Forde QC is a clever man and he has made certain concessions in order to whitewash what Labour’s staff and its right-wing cabal around Tom Watson did. By accepting that ‘anti-Semitism’ was a problem it effectively legitimised what they did.
Anyone on the left who believes that the Forde Report vindicates them is living on another planet. We were promised a mountain and what was delivered was a mouse.
But the main problem was that Corbyn himself bought into the ‘antisemitism’ campaign and actually fuelled it.
On page 306 of the Leaked Report we learn that Corbyn and his office, LOTO, were ‘chasing for action’ over the cases of Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, March Wadsworth and myself in order to ‘rebuild trust’ with the Jewish community i.e. the Board of Deputies.
Well we know how that panned out!