Shami Chakrabarti inquiry report on racism, Islamophobia and anti Semitism
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Thursday June 30 2016
The Labour Party today published the report by the Shami Chakrabarti Inquiry into anti-semitism, racism and Islamophobia.
The Inquiry, which was launched last month, set out to consult with Muslim, Jewish and other minority communities and Labour party members in order to establish a statement of principles and guidance about antisemitism and other forms of racism, including islamophobia; consult on guidance about the boundaries of acceptable behaviour and language; recommend clear and transparent compliance procedures for dealing with allegations of racism and antisemitism; look into training programmes for parliamentary candidates, MPs, councillors and others; make recommendations for changes to the code of conduct and party rules if necessary; and propose other action if needed, to ensure the Labour party is a welcoming environment for members of all communities.
The report concludes the party “is not overrun by antisemitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism” and sets forth a range of recommendations to improve complaints handling procedures and discourse on minorities to broaden minority representation in the party.
The report sets out 20 recommendations relating to language and behaviour, stereotyping, complaints procedures, transparency in the handling of complaints, training for party staff and the adoption of an Equal Opportunities Policy to boost minority representation within the party. The report rejects a “lifetime ban” on members who breach the party’s code of conduct and criticises the way in which some members were notified of their interim suspension pending investigation via the media. The report states Labour “should seek to uphold the strongest principles of natural justice…and resist subjecting members to a trial by media.”
The report also criticises the kneejerk adoption of interim suspension in recent weeks as undermining the principle of proportionality. The report urges the use of a “wide and creative range of sanctions” short of suspension and expulsion.
Among recommendations proposed in the report is the excising of terms such as “Paki”, “Zio” and other epithets from party discourse and the rejection of “racial or religious tropes and stereotypes about any group of people.”
On the subject of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, the report counsels “critics of the Israeli State and/or Government to use the term “Zionist” advisedly, carefully and never euphemistically or as part of personal abuse.”
In relation to many of the media reported scandals in recent months, invoking the Holocaust or Hitler, the report states: “Labour members should resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in debates about Israel-Palestine in particular.”
It adds, “Excuse for, denial, approval or minimisation of the Holocaust and attempts to blur responsibility for it have no place in the Labour Party.”
The report makes sensible recommendations which give voice to the party’s wider compliance with the criminal law on incitement to racial and religious hatred and the Equality Act for example, in relation to “Critical and abusive reference to any particular person or group based on actual or perceived physical characteristics.”
The reports makes interesting observations on the “guilt by association” techniques adopted by some of tarnish the reputation of people in public office. The report considers “guilt by association” as “dangerous” and obstructive to “the kind of dialogue and debate that is the basis of peace, progress and greater understanding in the world.”
The report mentions claims of discriminatory treatment of ethnic minority members and the placing of local party associations under “special measures” for lengthy periods. Referring to reasons why “special measures” may have been applied in the past, the report highlights that modern banking and internet-based application processes can better assist in detecting fraudulent applications. “Large-scale recruitment from minority or any other communities is not to be regarded as suspect per se,” it adds.