Friday, August 05, 2016

UK: A Tale of Two Inquiries

During the course of a hot summer Britain's Labour party is in meltdown on a range of issues. But among the worst parts of its meltdown are those to do with its continuing effort to cover up the party's serious anti-Semitism problem.
As we have pointed out here before, the party's leader -- Jeremy Corbyn -- has such a long history of association and sympathy with some of the world's most extreme anti-Semites that it is hard to see how the party's problems could not trickle down as well as up. Now two developments suggest that the Labour body politic has become so wracked by this problem that it is unlikely to recover.
The first demonstration was the confirmation that one of this year's two "inquiries" into anti-Semitism in the party had been hobbled before it even began. Anyone closely observing this review (ordered by Jeremy Corbyn, after a string of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments by Labour MPs, Councillors and members of the party's National Executive Committee were exposed) knew that it was unlikely to be anything other than a whitewash. The person in charge of this review -- veteran left-wing campaigner Shami Chakrabarti -- had already demonstrated it was unlikely that her review would seriously probe the party's problem; she talked of the problem of anti-Semitism only by also highlighting "Islamophobia and other forms of racism'. This circumlocution -- beloved of Jeremy Corbyn himself -- avoids tackling the specific problem of anti-Semitism and clearly aspires to dilute the problem in a sea of other challenges.
That the launch of Chakrabarti's thin and shallow report itself included two anti-Semitic incidents made it look as though Labour's low could get no worse. But since then, Chakrabarti was interviewed on a new television station in the UK (JTV) and was probed on precisely what she was offered in order to come up with the bland and unremarkable whitewash she had. Chakrabarti had already received criticism for becoming a signed-up member of the Labour party on the day that she was asked to write her "inquiry" into the party. But during her interview she was specifically asked about whether she had been offered the upgrade of a seat in the House of Lords (a peerage) before writing her report, Chakrabarti looked unusually uncomfortable and shuffled around before saying, "I don't think I want to talk about my future ambitions at this point'. Pressed on the question, she played around with a glass of water before saying "You can ask the question, and I'm going to evade it at this point."
Within days of this news emerging, the matter of the Labour party's other anti-Semitism inquiry in the year also returned. Earlier this year, and before the Chakrabarti report, the Labour party commissioned somebody who had already gotten their peerage -- Baroness Royall -- to investigate accusations of anti-Semitism in the Oxford University Labour Club. Unlike the Chakrabarti whitewash, the Royall report was never published. A brief summary of conclusions released by the Labour party presented the findings as suggesting that there was in essence no particular problem. Now someone -- presumably the report's author herself -- has "leaked" the full report. And it makes clear that the Labour party clearly attempted to cover up the negative findings of an inquiry that they themselves had commissioned.
The Royall report shows that students at the Oxford University Labour club who were Jewish were subjected to frequent anti-Semitism. It revealed that "There have been some incidents of anti-Semitic behaviour" and also that "some Jewish members do not feel comfortable attending the [OULC] meetings, let alone participating." Although the Labour party had decided that there needed to be no action taken after their suppression of the Royall report, the report itself says as a consequence of what has been found, "It is appropriate for the disciplinary procedures of our Party to be invoked."
So this is the tale of two inquiries. One inquiry, which found the Labour party to have an anti-Semitism problem, was suppressed by the Labour party. The other, which found the Labour party did not have an anti-Semitism problem, was released. The author of the suppressed report had to leak the report to the press herself. And the author of the whitewash report? Well, on Thursday of this week, in the least surprising news of the year, it was announced that the one person put forward for a peerage by the Labour party in the latest honours list is... Shami Chakrabarti.When people wonder whether this problem will go away, here is the reason it will not: A party that suppresses the truth and elevates lies is not going to remedy its problems any time soon. A party that tries to silence those who identify anti-Semitism and rewards those who cover it up is a party where moral as well as political corruption is not an aberration, but systemic.

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