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Key dates in the row over alleged anti-Semitism in Labour

ByPA News

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that the Labour Party broke equality law in its handling of anti-Semitism.

Here is a timeline of key events regarding tension surrounding claims of anti-Semitism in Labour during the party’s recent history:

– September 2015: Jeremy Corbyn is elected as Labour Party leader.

– April 2016: Labour MP Naz Shah apologises in the Commons for Facebook posts which appeared to suggest Israelis should move to live in the US.

– June 2016: Barrister and human rights campaigner Shami Chakrabarti delivers a report into anti-Semitism claims within Labour after being asked to do so by Mr Corbyn.

The study found that there was an “occasionally toxic atmosphere in the party”, but was dismissed as a “whitewash” by critics.

Baroness Shami Chakrabarti’s report was criticised by some as a ‘whitewash’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)
Baroness Shami Chakrabarti’s report was criticised by some as a ‘whitewash’ (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Ms Chakrabarti was appointed a Labour peer soon afterwards.

– March 2018: Mr Corbyn is criticised over a message he sent in 2012 which appeared to be supportive of an artist who created an allegedly anti-Semitic mural.

Mr Corbyn said he had not looked at the image fully at the time and later became deeply disturbed by it.

The artist denied the image was anti-Semitic.

– April 2018: Jennie Formby, a Corbyn ally, becomes Labour’s general secretary and says she will tighten the party’s disciplinary proceedings. But critics insisted not enough was done.

Ken Livingstone quit the Labour Party (Victoria Jones/PA)
Ken Livingstone quit the Labour Party (Victoria Jones/PA)

– May 2018: Labour former London mayor Ken Livingstone quits the party after a long-running row over his claims that Adolf Hitler had once backed Zionism, which had seen him suspended from the organisation.

– July 2018: Labour launches disciplinary action against veteran MP Dame Margaret Hodge, after she reportedly called Mr Corbyn an “anti-Semite” and a “racist”.

Ms Hodge refused to apologise over the incident and the action was later dropped.

– August 2018: Mr Corbyn draws criticism after a 2013 video came to light in which he claimed a group of British Zionists had “no sense of English irony”.

Mr Corbyn insisted he had used the term Zionist in an accurate political sense.

– August 2018: Mr Corbyn is attacked for his attendance at a ceremony in Tunisia in 2014 which it was claimed honoured people behind the 1972 Munich massacre in which 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage by militant Palestinians and killed.

The Labour leader said he had attended as part of a wider peace searching event.

Luciana Berger was among the MPs who quit Labour (Yui Mok/PA)
Luciana Berger was among the MPs who quit Labour (Yui Mok/PA)

– February 2019: Nine MPs quit Labour, with many of them citing anti-Semitism as a reason to go.

– May 2019: The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launches an inquiry into claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

– April 2020: Sir Keir Starmer becomes Labour leader and says tackling anti-Semitism is a top priority.

Sir Keir sets up an independent complaints procedure and review of all outstanding cases.

– June 2020: Rebecca Long Bailey is sacked as shadow education spokesperson after complaints that she had shared an article containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

– July 2020: A Labour report into how anti-Semitism claims were handled by the party is leaked and causes controversy as it says hostility among some figures towards Mr Corbyn had impacted the investigation of allegations.

– July 2020: Labour agrees to pay “substantial damages” to a number of people who talked to a Panorama special about anti-Semitism in the party.

– October 2020: The EHRC finds that Labour was responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” after investigating allegations of anti-Semitism in the party.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer says it is a “day of shame” for the party.

His predecessor as leader, Mr Corbyn, is suspended from the party over his response to the report.


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