Labour still factional over antisemitism, inquiry lawyer says

The senior lawyer who led an inquiry into Labour’s culture has said party members are still taking a “factional view” on his findings on antisemitism.

Martin Forde’s inquiry found problems with Labour’s structure and practices under former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

His report last year said opposing groups used the issue of antisemitism as a weapon.

At an event, he said rival “factions” were “cherry-picking” what he had said about his report.

Mr Forde raised concerns about the party’s response to his report during an appearance at a virtual event organised by the Compass think tank.

The lawyer echoed his previous comments that complaints made by black and Asian members were not being treated as seriously as those related to antisemitism.

“I think part of the reason that factionalism has arisen around this is because there is a perception that different groups are treated differently,” Mr Forde said.

He said: “I can still see that the so-called opposing factions are still cherry picking some of the things I’ve said in support of their faction or view, and nobody’s contextualising anything.”

The lawyer also appeared to criticise Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s promise to adopt a “zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism and racism”.

But Mr Forde said he gets “slightly irritated by zero tolerance as a phrase”.

“We’ve heard it from the Met and we’ve heard it from various politicians,” he said. “But you can’t implement zero tolerance, it seems to me, unless you’re policing things fairly rigorously and you’ve got transparent systems in place.”

A spokesperson for the Labour party said it was grateful to Mr Forde for his work in producing the report, and said it had introduced a new complains procedure, which ensured complaints were dealt with “fairly and impartially”.

They added: “The party did not wait for the publication of the Forde Report to take action, and we have already implemented many of its recommendations. A working group of Labour’s National Executive Committee has met regularly to determine how best to take forward remaining recommendations.

“With Keir Starmer’s leadership, Labour has changed and real progress has been achieved in ridding the party of the destructive factionalism and unacceptable culture that did so much damage previously.”

Labour MP Clive Lewis, who attended the event, said he hoped more of the report was “taken on board…because I think it’s essential for the future of the party.”

“Retrospective bans, a lack of transparency of the process enhances these kind of factional suspicions. The party won’t progress unless the factionalism is dealt with properly,” he said.


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