Keir Starmer – 2020 Statement on EHRC Report

The statement made by Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Opposition, on 29 October 2020.

This morning the Equality and Human Rights Commission published their final report into anti-semitism in the Labour Party.

I want to thank Caroline Waters, David Isaac and everyone at the Commission for their work in the last year and a half.

It is a comprehensive, rigorous, and thoroughly professional report.

When the Commission was set up by the last Labour Government to tackle discrimination, promote equality, and protect human rights.

It never occurred to me or anyone else, that one day the Labour Party would be investigated for breaching the equality legislation that a Labour Government had introduced.

Worse still, that the Labour Party would be found to have committed unlawful acts under that same legislation.

But that is what this report finds.

Both in terms of unlawful harassment through the acts of our agents and unlawful indirect discrimination.

The report’s conclusions are clear.

And stark.

They leave no room for equivocation.

The report finds:

Serious failings in leadership, processes and culture in dealing with anti-semitism within our Party;

– specific examples of unlawful harassment and unlawful indirect discrimination; “clear examples” of political interference from the Leaders’ Office in anti-semitism cases;

– an inadequate process for handling complaints of anti-semitism;

– a failure to deliver adequate training for staff responsible for investigating cases;

– repeated failure to implement the recommendations of previous reports into anti-semitism;

A culture that is, and I quote: “at odds with the Labour Party’s commitment to zero-tolerance of anti-semitism”;

And – perhaps most telling of all: “a clear breakdown of trust between the Labour Party, many of its members and the Jewish community.”

I found this report hard to read.

And it is a day of shame for the Labour Party.

We have failed Jewish people.

Our members.

Our supporters.

And the British public.

And so: on behalf of the Labour Party: I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused.

To Jewish people, our Jewish members, our long-standing Jewish affiliate, JLM.

To the people driven out of our Party, the Jewish Members driven out of Parliament, including Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger.

And to the members of Labour Party staff who spoke out, I want to say this: I know how hard these last few years have been for you.

How painful today will be and how hard you have had to fight to have your voices heard.

So let me be clear, I hear you.

And I can promise you this: I will act.

Never again will Labour let you down.

Never again will we fail to tackle anti-semitism.

And never again will we lose your trust.

The Labour Party I lead accepts this report in full.

And without qualification.

We will implement all the recommendations.

And we will implement them in full.

That process starts today.

I have already instructed my staff to start work with the Commission to implement the recommendations at the earliest possible opportunity.

We will provide the Commission with our action plan to achieve all of this within six weeks.

We will establish an independent complaints process – and it will be in place as soon as possible in the New Year.

We will ensure that neither the Leader, the Deputy Leader nor our offices will have any involvement in the outcome of complaints initiated under the Labour Party processes

And we are already addressing the backlog of anti-semitism cases. In fact, there have been more cases completed in the last six months than in the whole of 2019.

But we will go much further.

And we must go further.

Because – as the report makes clear – this cannot be solved just by changing the Labour Party’s processes and structures.

We also need a culture change in the Labour Party.

It must become, once again, an open and welcoming place for people from all backgrounds, and all communities.

Under my leadership, zero-tolerance of anti-semitism will mean precisely that.

If you’re anti-semitic, you should be nowhere near this Party.

And we’ll make sure you’re not.

And if – after all the pain, all the grief, and all the evidence in this report, there are still those who think there’s no problem with anti-semitism in the Labour Party. That it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack.

Then, frankly, you are part of the problem too. And you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.

This report is painful to read.

But I urge everyone to do so.

Because this must be a line in the sand.

There can be no more missed opportunities

No more denials or excuses.

Under my leadership, Labour will act decisively against anti-semitism in all its forms.

We will repair the breach.

I know it will take time

And hard work.

But when I stood for leader of this Party, I was clear that my first priority would be to root out anti-semitism.

And rebuild trust.

That started in April.

We have made progress. It will intensify today.

But I will only consider it a success when those members who left our Party because of anti-semitism feel safe to return.

And when we no longer hear the words “Labour” and “anti-semitism” in the same sentence.

Thank you.