antisemitism,  Labour Party

An insider’s view on the Labour leader’s office

Today’s Sunday Times carries a thoroughly depressing report of Josh Simons’ alleged experiences as a Labour policy adviser.  It is suggested that he:

believed that some of Corbyn’s team, including Seumas Milne, director of strategy, had “at least a blind spot with anti-semitism and at worst a wilful disregard for it”.

The specific allegations are that:

  • One member of the office made reference to a ‘Jewish conspiracy’ in relation to the response to Ken Livingstone’s bizarrely offensive comments about Hitler and Zionism.
  • Simons was subjected to an ‘inquisition’ by Seumas Milne ‘about being Jewish, his family and his attitude to Israel’, making him feel extremely uncomfortable.
  • The Labour leader’s team treated with ‘flippant disdain’ preparations for a meeting with the Board of Deputies.

The recent news of Chakrabarti’s peerage has apparently sharpened Simons’ anger and frustration that his submission to the enquiry seemed to have been ignored by her.

However a Labour spokesperson has insisted that these allegations are unfounded and that  “The person making these claims is a disgruntled former member of staff.”

In her report, Chakrabarti cautioned against relying on the (contested) Macpherson threshold for a racist incident.  However she does maintain that any complainant should at least be treated with sensitive consideration:

Submissions to my Inquiry reveal a level of concern and confusion (in some quarters) about the “Macpherson” definition of a racist incident. This is of course a reference to the famous Report of 1999 into the Metropolitan Police after its appalling mishandling of Stephen Lawrence’s murder. The principle that an incident should be recorded as “racist” when perceived that way by a victim may indeed have some useful application outside the policing context, and even here in the world of Labour Party discipline. However the purpose of the approach is to ensure that investigators handle a complaint with particular sensitivity towards the victim. It is to suggest the seriousness with which a complaint must be handled, but in no way to determine its outcome.

The Labour spokesperson doesn’t seem to be following these guidelines.