Sir Keir Starmer faces new test over anti-Semitism as equalities watchdog gives verdict on Labour

Harry Yorke
·3 min read
Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn
Keir Starmer and Jeremy Corbyn

Sir Keir Starmer will on Thursday come under renewed pressure to take action against Jeremy Corbyn and his allies as Britain’s equalities watchdog publishes its long-awaited report into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. 

The Daily Telegraph can reveal that the charity that helped trigger the 18-month investigation into Labour will demand that Sir Keir deal with a series of fresh complaints against his predecessor and other MPs. 

Writing to Sir Keir on Thursday morning, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) will urge him to demonstrate his commitment to stamping out anti-Jewish racism by holding the “individuals responsible” for the crisis “to account”. 

In the letter, seen by this newspaper, the CAA’s chief executive Gideon Falter confirms that it will be re-submitting existing complaints against Mr Corbyn as well as more than a dozen new ones against other serving and former Labour MPs. 

Urging Sir Keir to follow through with his pledge to set up an independent disciplinary process, Mr Falter claims that the individuals named in the complaints have committed “serious breaches” but have so far faced “no action.” 

“Parties are judged by the conduct of those elected to high office and by how they respond when the conduct of those office holders falls so dismally short,” he continues. 

“In the eyes of the overwhelming majority of Britain’s Jews and all decent people in our country, Labour under Mr Corbyn was severely wanting. 

“Whether Labour under its new leadership has turned a corner will be judged by how it deals with complaints, including those we have made, going forward. 

“In our view, action on our complaints is a necessary step for the Labour Party towards regaining the values that it lost and to begin restoring the trust of the Jewish community.”

It comes two years after the CAA formally referred the Labour Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) after it repeatedly refused to investigate complaints it had submitted against Mr Corbyn. 

The complaints included his defence of an anti-Semitic mural which was removed in Tower Hamlets in 2012, which he has since apologised for, and an interview with the Iranian broadcaster Press TV in which he appeared to suggest an Israeli connection to a terror attack in Egypt.

Following further submissions by the Jewish Labour Movement, in May last year the EHRC launched a statutory inquiry into whether the party had unlawfully discriminated against Jews.

Today, the findings of the EHRC’s investigation and its recommendations will be released, with Sir Keir due to respond formally at a press conference at 11am. 

While Labour refused to comment ahead of the report’s publication, Sir Keir has previously vowed to establish an independent disciplinary process and tackle a backlog of complaints left behind by the previous regime. 

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph, Lord Mann, the Government’s anti-Semitism tsar and former Labour MP, said: “I would be shocked and dismayed if Keir Starmer did anything other than accept every recommendation in the report. 

“He needs to give a clear message that anti-Semites and a much larger number of apologists have no place in the Labour Party. It’s either get onboard with the EHRC and it’s recommendations or get out.” 

Asked if the investigation was the most shameful moment in the party’s history, Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told Times Radio: “It probably was, yes”.

“A lot of this was about the fact that there was just a refusal to acknowledge the issue,” he added. 

“I obviously don’t know what’s in the report, because it’s confidential, but that was a shameful period in our history. 

“We have to be clear that we are never going back to that, and we will do everything we can to repair relations with the Jewish community who are understandably and quite rightly hurt by the Labour party’s failure to deal with this in recent years.”