WHILE COMMENTATORS debated whether it was right to refer to the Labour anti-Semitism saga as a crisis, Ken Livingstone’s intervention marked a serious escalation.
Until now, most of the incidents involved local activists, councillors and other hitherto anonymous figures. By distorting the history of the Holocaust to defend Naz Shah’s remarks (which she herself has wisely chosen to apologise for), Ken created a new locus and a dimension to the problem. He brought it to the heart of Labour’s ruling NEC on which he sat. The very body that is responsible for conducting the suspensions and investigations of those responsible.
So, what next? The announcement of the new package comprising a wider inquiry and code of conduct has the potential to enable the party to embark on a long and complicated road to regaining the confidence of the Jewish community. My party needs to get this right.
The Baroness Royall inquiry into events at Oxford Labour Club and resulting issues is progressing impressively.
I hope that once it begins its work we will be able to say the same about this new inquiry. We are not there yet. Questions remain about its remit; to whom it will report; how independent it will be. It would have been better for this to have been addressed in consultation with our community before it was announced.
It needs to be a model of best practice in the field.
I hope we reach that point very quickly.