The United Kingdom’s Labour Party suspended former party leader Jeremy Corbyn on October 29 following the release of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report stating that the party broke the law in how they handled complaints of anti-Semitism.
The report, which was published earlier that day, concluded that the Labour Party violated the country’s Equality Act during Corbyn’s tenure as party leader. The law states that the party “must not discriminate against, harass or victimise members, associates, guests, or those wanting to become members, on the basis of a number of protected characteristics,” according to the report. The EHRC found that Labour inadequately handled complaints of anti-Semitism and that the party is responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination.”
In total, the EHRC found 23 instances of Corbyn’s office engaging in political interference over complaints of anti-Semitism and charges that the party failed to provide proper training on how to handle anti-Semitism, the BBC reported. The EHRC recommends that the Labour Party provide “a comprehensive policy and procedure” on how to handle anti-Semitism as well as regularly audit its complaint system and ensure that there’s independent oversight over the process in the long-term. The EHRC also recommends that Labour establish an education and training program on anti-Semitism in conjunction with Jewish stakeholders.
After the report was released, Corbyn said on his Facebook page that while anti-Semitism was an issue during his tenure as leader of Labour, it “was dramatically overstated for political purposes.”
In response to his remarks, Labour suspended Corbyn.
“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation,” the party said in a statement. “He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
Corbyn responded to the suspension by tweeting: “I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me. I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong. I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”
I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me.
I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.
I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 29, 2020
Jewish groups praised Labour for Corbyn’s suspension.
“Over the course of Mr. Corbyn’s leadership, the Labour Party became known for its antisemitism and its cynical approach to the Jewish community of Great Britain,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a statement. “Today’s findings, as well as the party’s decision to suspend Mr. Corbyn from its ranks, are a much needed and welcome step in ridding the British political system of his brand of hatred and contempt. We commend Labour’s new leader, Keir Starmer, for his proactive approach to combating antisemitism within the UK’s political leadership.”
The American Jewish Committee similarly tweeted, “We welcome today’s decision by @UKLabour to suspend @JeremyCorbyn for deflecting blame from himself after the @EHRC report found that under his leadership Labour was responsible for unlawful harassment and discrimination of Jews. There must be zero tolerance for antisemitism.”
We welcome today's decision by @UKLabour to suspend @JeremyCorbyn for deflecting blame from himself after the @EHRC report found that under his leadership Labour was responsible for unlawful harassment and discrimination of Jews.
There must be zero tolerance for antisemitism.
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) October 29, 2020
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt also tweeted, “Thank you @Keir_Starmer for taking a principled stance and making clear #antisemitism, and its whitewashing, have no place in @UKLabour or politics in general.”
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) October 29, 2020
Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog said in a statement, “During my tenure as Chairman of Israel’s Labor Party and Leader of the Opposition, I invited then-Chairman of the UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, to visit Yad Vashem in order to learn more about the Holocaust and its lessons. I emphasized to him the importance of such a visit for the Chairman of a leading party in Britain. He never responded to me. Nor did he respond to my appeal to him, as Chairman of The Jewish Agency, to eradicate his party of antisemitism. The lack of his responsiveness was glaring.
“Today’s decision by the UK Labour Party marks an important milestone in eliminating the scourge of hatred and antisemitism from a historic and important party in Britain. The Labour Party is setting an example to the entire world in removing antisemitism from the political game.”
British researcher David Collier tweeted, “People keep asking me if I feel vindicated. Vindicated? No! There is just anger. Anger that British Jews had to go through this at all.”
The EHRC published. Jeremy Corbyn suspended.
People keep asking me if I feel vindicated.
Vindicated? No! There is just anger. Anger that British Jews had to go through this at all.
— David Collier (@mishtal) October 29, 2020
In August, Corbyn aide Andrew Murray was quoted as saying that Corbyn couldn’t empathize with Jews over anti-Semitism because Jews are “relatively prosperous.” In 2019, several Labour members left the party, mostly citing Corbyn’s handling of anti-Semitism. Corbyn lost to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the December 2019 election for prime minister.