When you keep sweeping things “under the rug” eventually you’re going to trip from the mess you’ve made.
Documents obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit have revealed shocking revelations behind the “anti-Semitism crisis” that shook the Labour Party during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The documents, social media data, and covert recordings show how senior officials within the party attempted to undermine Corbyn’s support and silence debate about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Forde’s report was met with controversy, particularly due to its criticism of the BBC’s 2019 Panorama documentary, “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” Despite pressure from the broadcaster to remove this criticism, Forde stood his ground and refused to do so.
In interviews with Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, which shared transcripts with Middle East Eye, Forde said: “I was invited to amend the report, I guess, make it more in line with their [Panorama’s] conclusions, and that wasn’t something I was prepared to do.”
The July 2019 episode of Panorama entitled “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?” was fiercely critical of Corbyn. It claimed his office had intervened in the party’s disciplinary procedures to the detriment of the fight against antisemitism.
Forde referred to the episode as “infamous”.
EXCLUSIVE: Martin Forde, the lawyer tasked with reviewing division and racism in the British Labour Party speaks with the I-Unit.— Al Jazeera Investigations (@AJIunit) March 16, 2023
Forde describes facing pressure from the BBC and says Labour Party has gone silent on him since.
Watch in full: https://t.co/ki6yeSgDlx#LabourFiles pic.twitter.com/bt77VfsjEX
These revelations come in the wake of an independent report on racism and factionalism within the Labour Party, commissioned by the current party leader, Sir Keir Starmer, and produced by independent barrister Martin Forde KC. Forde also revealed that he has heard almost nothing from the Labour Party since the report was published.
The report identified a “hierarchy of racism” within the Labour party, with anti-Semitism taken more seriously than other forms of racism. Forde has since spoken publicly to Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit, revealing that he has heard almost nothing from the Labour Party since the report was published.
For many, it seems Starmer only gave lip service to the investigation brushing under the carpet the disturbing results.
Forde’s 137-page report prompted apologies from Starmer, the NEC, and Labour general secretary David Evans, and pledges to act on its 165 recommendations and “tackle racist and discriminatory attitudes” in the party.
Starmer said: “I know an apology alone is not enough and that is why, working with the general secretary, we have taken steps to change the culture of the party. This work is underway.”
But Forde said he had had almost no contact with the Labour Party since its publication.
“I’ve had very limited communication with the general secretary, David Evans, but that was really housekeeping. I have spoken to a caucus of black Labour Party MPs …. but other than that I’ve not spoken to anybody within the party machinery,” he said.
He said he found this “a little surprising”.
Forde’s report was particularly critical of what he called a “hierarchy of racism” within the party, with antisemitism appearing to be prioritised over Islamophobia and anti-Black racism.
“These are serious debates that need to be heard in a respectful context and I just feel there’s work to be done,” he said. “It’s not in my view a sufficient response to say that was then, this is now.”
“I have now been told that there is a working party looking at my recommendations,” Forde said. If he was involved in “interaction with the working party” he said he hoped to challenge “smugness” in the party over the issue of race.
Forde criticised the lack of diversity among staff and management within Labour.
He also expressed concern that “quite a high proportion of Black and Asian councillors or prospective MPs felt they’d been subjected to disciplinary action which had been deliberately timed to exclude them from qualifying processes or selection”.
Forde said that even if this was a perception it was still “worthy of serious consideration”.
The Labour Files – The Forde Response I Al Jazeera Investigations
The investigation focused on the party’s disciplinary process which is overseen by the Governance and Legal Unit (GLU). Forde said he felt “vindicated” by the I-Unit investigation, The Labour Files, which he found fascinating. Released in September 2022, the investigation revealed the inner workings of Britain’s opposition party, which many believe will form the next government. “The files are part of The Labour Files, an investigation by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit based on 500 gigabytes of documents, emails, video and audio files from the Labour Party dating from 2015 to 2021.
The Labour Files, reveal how the party’s bureaucracy, led by Iain McNicol at the time, was resistant to Corbyn’s political path.
It was shown how false allegations were made against supporters of Corbyn, including accusations of abusive behaviour, with the stated intention of suspending or expelling them from the party.
The Labour Files also show how, before McNicol was replaced by Jennie Formby in 2018, the bureaucracy of the Labour party was resistant to the political path Corbyn set.
They show how some supporters of Corbyn were smeared with false accusations of abusive behaviour submitted to the GLU, including homophobia and anti-Semitism, with the stated intention to suspend or expel them from the party.
It is clear that while the party leader sets the political direction of the party, internal affairs, including the party’s disciplinary process, come under the remit of the general secretary, the highest non-political post in the party. The Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) oversees the party’s disciplinary process. It was that unit under Iain McNicol that created a hostile environment for any supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.
Forde’s report and The Labour Files both show how the party’s bureaucracy attempted to undermine members supportive of Corbyn, the first unequivocally socialist leader of the party since the 1980s.
From the moment Corbyn was elected as party leader in 2015 his position was met with hostility and ensuing internal battles over control of the party between the left-wing “Corbynites” and the pre-2015 centrists began. The right wing of the Labour party was not prepared to follow the democratic will of its MPs or membership but was determined to carry out a regime of sabotage and treachery.
The right of the Labour Party followed Lord Peter Mandelson’s example, the now Shadow cabinet member under Starmer without portfolio stated: I try to undermine Jeremy Corbyn ‘every single day”
He added: “Why do you want to just walk away and pass the title deeds of this great party over to someone like Jeremy Corbyn? I don’t want to, I resent it, and I work every single day in some small way to bring forward the end of his tenure in office.
“Something, however small it may be – an email, a phone call or a meeting I convene – every day I try to do something to save the Labour party from his leadership.”
Many working within the GUP had previously worked for Mandelson while campaigning to remain in the EU. “Britain Stronger In Europe”; there appears to have been some overlap between the two organisations)
Britain Stronger in Europe (formally The In Campaign Limited) was an advocacy group that campaigned in favour of the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union in the 2016 British referendum.
Lord Peter Mandelson sat on the board of Britain Stronger IN Europe. He along with Roland Rudd another of Tony Blair’s advisers later set up the Corbyn–sceptic Remain campaign pressure group ‘The People’s vote’ all in hindsight looked nothing more than fronts to ensure no Left-leaning government under Corbyn would win office.
Deep in the corridors of power, a sinister decision was made: to destroy Corbyn, the voice of the people, through a sustained campaign of character assassination. We, the watchers and defenders of truth, were not surprised by the dirty tricks that were employed. What shocked us was that the usual suspects, the likes of The Mail, Telegraph, and Murdoch Press, were joined by unexpected allies such as The Guardian, The BBC, the Head of The Board of Deputies, and a flock of “useful idiot” columnists. The leaks and press reports that flooded the public consciousness were not only relentless but also utterly biased. This was a conspiracy that ran deep and dark, aiming to quash the people’s champion by any means necessary.
The revelations contained in The Labour Files are part of an unprecedented leak of 500 gigabytes of documents, emails, video, and audio files from the Labour Party dating from 1998 to 2021. The documents paint a disturbing picture of a party bureaucracy that was more interested in maintaining its own power than serving the interests of the party and its members.
The Labour Files also sheds light on the extent to which senior Labour officials attempted to undermine Corbyn’s leadership. According to the investigation, party bureaucrats tried to limit his influence by controlling access to key meetings and events, withholding information, and refusing to implement policies that he supported.
For his part, Forde has called for the Labour Party to take decisive action to address the issues raised in his report and to ensure that it is a party that truly reflects the values of equality and social justice that it claims to uphold. Only by doing so can the party hope to regain the trust of its members and the wider public
Forde’s report and The Labour Files make it clear that the Labour Party has a lot of work to do to address the issues of racism and factionalism within the party. It is not enough to pay lip service to these issues or to try to sweep them under the rug. The party must take concrete steps to address these issues and to ensure that its bureaucracy is working in the best interests of the party and its members.
In the end, the Labour Party no longer cares that it was created to serve the people of the United Kingdom, now it only cares to maintain the power and influence of its own bureaucracy, it is now a zombie party dead in all but name.
These staffers are very much the Tory enablers they ensured a Conservative victory under both Theresa May then Boris Johnson and should never be forgotten and never forgiven.