Despite receiving more than 850 formal complaints, the British labour party has failed to take action against, and on occasion defended, members who have made outrageously anti-Semitic claims, according to a new exposé published by the Sunday Times.
Data obtained by the Times show that party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s office had received 863 complaints relating to anti-Semitism as of March 8, 2019, but only intervened in 101 of those cases. In total, 454 of the cases remain unresolved, including 249 cases in which no action has been taken. And in those cases that were resolved, 191 members faced no sanction, 145 received a warning the Times characterized as a “slap on the wrist,” and just 29 members were expelled.
Many of the complaints that failed to prompt permanent expulsions were based on a party member having explicitly endorsed an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. In one such case, a trade-union official in Manchester was readmitted to the party after sharing a tirade that blamed “Jewish Israelis” for the September 11 terrorist attacks. In another, a councilor in Lancashire was readmitted after decrying the nefarious influence of the “Jewish media” and the “Rothschilds” and after having defended those epithets as “blanket term[s] of description without any racist connotations.”
In other cases, members who said things such as “Heil Hitler,” “F**k the Jews,” and “Jews are the problem” have remained in the party despite Corbyn’s office having received complaints about them over a year ago.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson decried the rise of anti-Semitism within his party and urged his fellow leaders to take the threat more seriously in a statement issued Sunday.
“This makes for deeply shocking and depressing reading,” he said. “Labour members and the Jewish community will not understand how, many years on from the first concerns about anti-Semitism being raised, we have not got to grips with it.”
The party, however, responded to the report by insisting that certain quotes were taken out of context to misrepresent its approach to anti-Semitism complaints generally.
“Lines have been selectively leaked from emails to misrepresent their overall contents,” the party said in a statement. “Former staffers asked the Leader’s Office for their help with clearing the backlog of cases. This lasted for a few weeks while there was no general secretary, and was ended by Jennie Formby [now in that role].”
“The Labour Party takes complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to rooting it out. All complaints are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures. We can’t comment on individual cases,” the statement added.