The Report Must Not Be Buried

By Cathy Cole

The leaked report to the NEC – now being widely shared with screenshots being posted on social media – runs to over 800 detailed pages.   For legal reasons, we aren’t able to share the full report.   But it’s already clear that the party should make it available to all members.    The current leadership, and the embittered Blairite elements whose atrocious attitudes are laid bare, will be keen to bury the report and deny its significance.     But we must mount a concerted attempt to bring to light the toxic culture which sabotaged the chances of a radical Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn.

Labour Hub will be considering the report at greater length in the coming days.    In some ways it should be no surprise to learn that a highly factional rump of salaried right wingers would mobilise to resist the efforts of a socialist leadership.    Even so, to see black-and-white evidence of these attitudes – reaching to the very top of the party’s senior managements – is a shocking and deeply disturbing experience.

To briefly summarise, the report paints a picture in which senior party officials were

  • alarmed at the party’s growing prospects of success in the run up to the 2017 General Election, and sought to divert resources into protecting their allies at the expense of kicking out the Tories
  • hostile towards to the party membership, and deliberately failing to engage new members at local level
  • contemptuous towards Members of Parliament willing to work with the Corbyn leadership, and particularly BAME and women MPs.
  •  So reactionary that they were “astonished” by the idea of, for example, raising Corporation Tax
  •  recruiting people to positions for which they weren’t well qualified
  • making bullying remarks towards non-factional colleagues, and facilitating media harassment of MPs, 
  •  Knowingly employing double standards in relation to disciplinary cases based on factional concerns, and 
  • overlooking serious allegations of racism and Islamophobia, whilst failing to expedite and track effectively report of antisemitism

The last point is particularly telling, given that some of the same individuals who attacked the party under Corbyn for “failing” to act on antisemitism on the BBC Panorama documentary, were found to have overseen inadequate processes.

The issues uncovered are far too important to be buried.  Members should insist that the report is:

  • published in full on Member-only platforms (redacted if necessary)
  •  Submitted as an Appendix to the party’s response to the EHRC investigation into antisemitism,
  •  the subject of an NEC inquiry, with findings to be debated at Annual Conference.
  •  taken into account in relation to future appointments of senior staff.

Several of the offending figures have since gone on to work in senior roles for UNISON, which backed Keir Starmer for leader.    UNISON members, in particular, will no doubt be asking themselves whether the attitudes displayed in the report make such individuals suitable for employment in their trade union.

If Starmer is serious about confronting and moving beyond factionalism, these issues must be brought out into the open and dealt with.   To bury this report would be implicitly to sanction behaviour many members at all levels of the party find grotesque.

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