I HAVE previously written about the misplaced high hopes that the report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) would come down hard on the Labour Party over its structural anti-Semitism. It is more likely that rather than institutional failure, individuals in the party organisation will be blamed for its failure to manage the anti-Semitism rife in the party from the lowly member through to MPs and members of the National Executive Committee. There were toddlers entering their second year of nursery when Momentum activist Jackie Walker was expelled from Labour for anti-Semitism who were mere twinkles in their fathers’ eyes when Walker was initially suspended for publicly questioning the marking of the Holocaust. Blaming individuals could save Labour from sinking under one of the two waves of lawsuits it is facing.
However, whatever the severity of the report’s criticisms of Labour, the Left have, in the style of the Hindenburg Line, already prepared three layers of defences. Let’s look at this Corbyn Line.
The first line of defence is the one espoused by Corbyn himself in his first interview since returning to the back benches, which is that the EHRC is insufficiently independent from the government. He is saying in effect that the investigation into Labour is a Conservative Party operation, and as such is a partisan attack. The backing for this assertion comes from a letter that was leaked to Newsnight from the EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath to the civil service HR chief concerning the impartiality of the chairman David Isaac. The letter was sent in June 2019 and was revealed during the election campaign, but was submerged in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s car-crash interview with Andrew Neil. Allied to this accusation of partisanship is the assertion that the EHRC, being a victim of government spending cuts, cannot function properly, which means any report will about Labour’s dysfunctional organisation will have emanated from an organisation that is also dysfunctional. However, Hilsenrath asserted the independence of the EHRC in an interview for an obscure government podcast early this year stating ‘ . . . we have a good range of powers. Yes, we don’t have as many as we had, because we have lost some over the years. We do have independence and we do have resource and we would like to have more, but I think we manage well with what we’ve got.’
The second line of defence by the Left is that no report of the EHRC can be acceptable unless it takes on board the information contained in the report The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to antisemitism, 2014–2019, a document apparently put together by Corbyn supporters in the dying days of his leadership to shift the blame onto an alleged Corbynsceptic faction in the staff of the Labour Party by way of invalidating the Panorama documentary which featured some people named in this report. The thrust of the report is that all Labour’s problems stem from rogue staff and management including the General Secretary, whom Corbyn had replaced by 2018 or thereabouts, who were allegedly running a sabotage operation. These alleged saboteurs are also blamed for denying Corbyn victory in the 2017 general election. Labour’s own lawyers refused to submit the report but an unredacted version containing much personal information leaked into the public domain, leading to the second wave of lawsuits against the party. Leftists will use this leaked report to exonerate Corbyn and his regime, but they miss the point. The issue is not about an alleged faction, but the totality of the party. Corbyn was party leader from 2015, and this presumably did involve some form of leadership on his part. It is reported that those mounting the complaint against Labour are actually using this report to bolster their case.
The final line of defence is not as fixed as the above two but is already being well-prepared. It has not escaped the notice of the comrades who obsess with the politics of identity that Rebecca Hilsenrath is an active member of the Anglo-Jewish community. This has been raised in an article by the Morning Star, despite official minutes stating she has recused herself from (at the time) any proposed investigation into Labour, deferring to the EHRC chairman David Isaac. The comrades allege that by this time, a lot of the spadework had been done on Hilsenrath’s watch, but they are vague on the details. Isaac was then attacked for being a partner in a law firm that works for the government. Once again, the comrades are advancing a conspiracy theory, but that is what the comrades always do when they do not get their way. This is despite the statement from the EHRC in the latest board minutes that ‘Attendees who had not signed up to the data security handling plan and conflict of interest management process for the Labour Party investigation, or who had declared conflicts of interest, recused themselves from discussion of this investigation.’
So, the day the EHRC report is public, the reader may be able to play Leftie excuse bingo. There are only three squares, but the reader will be certain by the end of the day to be able to call House!