Published On: Fri, Jan 31st, 2020

Formby’s update on disciplinaries reveals ‘single individual’ made 1/3 of antisemitism complaints in 2019

Latest general secretary update shows doubling in number of removals in 2019 to 149, with many complaints relating to old social media posts

Labour general secretary Jennie Formby’s latest update on the party’s disciplinary processes relating to antisemitism shows the extent of the effect of changes made to Labour’s disciplinary processes and powers of expulsion – and the strides made since she began the task of bringing her predecessor’s structures up to date.

Formby’s report summary states:

As a result of increased resources, improved practices and investigatory techniques:

• The Labour Party expelled 45 members in relation to antisemitism in 2019, compared to 10 in 2018 and 1 in 2017.
• After rule changes passed at Conference in September 2019 gave NEC panels the power to expel, twice the number of people were expelled in two months than had been expelled during the whole of 2018.
• NEC Disciplinary Panels heard 274 cases relating to antisemitism in 2019, a tenfold increase on the 28 cases heard in 2017.
• In 2019, 149 members were removed from the party as a result of disciplinary processes relating to antisemitism, either being expelled or quitting the party as proceedings progressed.
• The Labour Party suspended 296 members in relation to antisemitism in 2019, compared to 98 in 2018 – itself a big increase on the previous year.

She also notes that a third of antisemitism complaints received in the year were made by the same person – many relating to older social media posts. A significant number of complaints were judged to merit no action:

The vast majority of complaints relate to social media activity, often social media posts from several years ago. A third of all cases in 2019 have the same single individual as the main complainant.

All complaints relating to protected characteristics are logged, regardless of merit. Some do not meet the threshold of a rule breach and no further action is taken

Of the 149 members ‘removed’ as a result of antisemitism complaints 45 were expelled, with others either resigning or their membership lapsing. Eleven were either ‘auto-excluded’ because they were supporters of other parties, or rejected via Ms Formby’s use of her prerogative as general secretary to rescind membership within eight weeks of joining.

255 complaints were found, after investigation, to merit no further action, almost double the number of the previous year.

Formby’s report also gives an indication of the improvements in the speed of the process since she took over as general secretary from Iain McNicol:

The Party does not have the same detailed breakdowns of figures for the period before 2018, as a comprehensive central complaints system was not in use until then. However:

• From 5 July 2017 to 5 March 2018, just 11 new suspensions identified as relating to antisemitism were reported in General Secretary reports to the NEC.
• In the January 2018 General Secretary report to the NEC, a total of 40 members were listed as currently suspended in relation to charges of antisemitism.
• On 3 April 2018, the Governance and Legal Unit reported that just 89 members were under investigation in relation to antisemitism, of which 50 were at that point suspended.

McNicol was allowed to resign in February 2018. Formby was appointed as his replacement a month later.

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