Ruth Smeeth

Grading the Chakrabarti report

First published on ProgressOnline

The launch of yesterday’s report of the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry was a missed opportunity for Labour. This had little to do with the author of the report – which I will come to in a minute – but the behaviour of the leader. To use such an event as an advertorial for his leaders ‘eyes …’ was laughable. Equally to have attacks on Be-Leavers like Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Nigel Farage for their ‘dog whistle … [no] flog horn’ racism in the recent EU referendum campaign but no condemnation of the former mayor of London Ken Livingstone – who triggered this inquiry in the first place – or Jackie Walker of Momentum who suggested that Jews paid for the slave trade was pathetic party politics and left the Labour leader wanting. Leadership is calling out your own side not just your opponents. Then, an at best a poor choice of words resulted in Emily Thornberry – the new shadow foreign secretary – calling the Israeli Ambassador on the leader’s behalf to apologise for any offence caused by perceived comparisons between Israel and Daesh.  (more…)

Eight tests for the Chakrabarti report

First published on ProgressOnline

Tomorrow Shami Chakrabarti’s review into antisemitism and how it should be tackled is to be presented. I am told everyone is seeing the report tomorrow for the first time – obviously we the party members, and the Jewish community, but the leader’s office, the general secretary and the National Executive Committee too. It should be a seminal moment for Labour. The opportunity is welcome to draw a line under Ken Livingstone’s ugly statements and the career that went before that has been littered with offensive remarks to Jews. But it should do much more. It should chart a way for Labour to move from the bottom of the pack on these issues to somewhere in the premier league. (more…)