Tuesday 6 July 2021

Labour's Double Standards

Muslims see the world differently from the rest of us. Muslims are a nation within a nation. Muslims fostering non-Muslim children is something like child abuse. Muslims have sympathy with terrorists. Remarks not from Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, Britain First, or the usual line up of far right toerags. These are phrases and arguments used by Trevor Phillips, who's just had his Labour Party membership unsuspended. As Sienna Rodgers notes, that Phillips will be interviewing shadow cabinet members on Sky News's Sunday politics show, and shares the same party branch with Keir Starmer might not be a coincidental happenstance. Meanwhile, as Phillips's Islamophobia is brushed under the carpet Jeremy Corbyn remains suspended from the parliamentary party for telling the truth about how antisemitism was mobilised (and sat on) by the right for factional reasons. One doesn't have to be a cynic to think things look a bit suss.

It seems the Labour leadership have learned something about party management. In the wake of the EHRC's egregiously flawed report into antisemitism in the party, Peter Mandelson criticised its key recommendation for handling complaints about racism: the setting up of an independent panel. He argued the party's National Executive Committee should oversee the complaints process. Why the hostility? Without getting too much into the party's history, the labour movement has well-founded reasons for being sceptical of outside authorities setting the terms of its organisation and imposing rules on it. The anti-trade union laws of the 1980s and 1990s are recent examples, but there are plenty of others. As all wings of the labour movement have developed as institutions, they have jealously nurtured and guarded their emergent sovereignty. This has suited the Labour right down to the ground. As long as they're in charge and the taboo for running to the courts is in place there is no power, save out organising them, that can stay their hand.

In her piece on the implementation of the EHRC recommendations, Ailbhe Rea argues that while the new measures are designed specifically for deaing with antisemitism complaints, it would be unsustainable for this to be reserved for cases of this character and not sexism, Islamophobia, anti-black racism, anti-gay and anti-trans issues. As she rightly observes, its roll out will find the likes of Rosie Duffield in a difficult position, as well as MPs and councillors who think nothing of pushing anti-traveller leaflets through people's doors. And it brings the forever delayed Forde Report into play, and ultimately Keir Starmer's competence in deciding to pay staff members off rather than fight a legal action the party would, in all likelihood, have won.

You can see why Mandelson was concerned. An independent complaints process as mandated by the EHRC theoretically checks the power of the dominant faction to abuse it for their ends. Burdens of proof and complaints are presently considered against the immediate interests of the leadership and the apparat. If they are inconvenient, as per the Phillips case they are dismissed or kicked into the long grass. Weight of evidence counts for nothing against the weight of connections and political allegiances. Perhaps this has dawned on the leadership have and are looking at ways of wriggling out of their obligations to the EHRC (notably, no reports of the last NEC meeting mention the scheduled sitdown meeting with them about progress of implementing the complaints process). Or the party is trying to make the most of the time it has left before surrendering external oversight by shoving through unpopular but factionally convenient decisions. Whatever the case, it stinks and simply reinforces the view that rules are for the little people while those with power act with impunity.

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Blissex said...

«Jeremy Corbyn remains suspended from the parliamentary party»

Probably this will continue to ensure that this parliament is his last:

* If he is outside the PLP he cannot be selected as a Labour candidate at the next election, and so curtains.

* If he regardless runs for Islington, he would be running in competition with the official Labour candidate, and be expelled from the party, and so curtains.

Karl Greenall said...

His popularity in his own constituency would, I have no doubt, lead to a repeat of the "Livingstone" moment, when Blair demonstrated his cackhandedness over the Mayoralty of London, and ended up re-admitting Ken to the party.
I will concede, however, that Labour would have to survive a general election for that to happen in JC's case.