Baroness Royall’s report rules OULC not institutionally anti-Semitic22nd May 2016
Baroness Royall’s official Labour Party report into allegations of anti-Semitism within Oxford University Labour Club has concluded that the organisation is not institutionally anti-Semitic but has made a series of recommendations for the organisation going forward. There has been criticism from within the wider Labour Party however, including from Baroness Royall herself, after the party decided not to publish the report in its entirety.
In its summary, Baroness Royall stated: “I do not believe that there is institutional antisemitism within OULC. Difficulties, however, face OULC which must be addressed to ensure a safe space for all Labour students to debate and campaign around the great ideas of our movement.”
The report also acknowledged that its recommendations applied to other Labour clubs and the wider Labour Party, and would also compliment Shami Chakrabarti’s inquiry in to wider allegations of anti-Semitism within the party.
The report itself made eleven recommendations including a suggestions that: “The Executive of the OULC, and other Labour Clubs, should examine the culture of their Club and take action to ensure that all those who wish to participate in meetings feel that there is a safe space in order to discuss and debate without discrimination.”
“The Executive of the OULC, and all Labour Clubs, should have a clear line of reporting for incidents of antisemitism and other forms of racism, discrimination and harassment. This should include the ability of individual students to report incidents directly to the Executive Director of Governance of the Labour Party.”
The report also indicated that in cases where a member was excluded for anti-Semitism this should not be a life ban as the individual in question could change their views and seek Labour Party National Executive Committee (NEC) approval if they wished to rejoin the party.
OULC released a statement reacting to the report on their website and Facebook page, it stated: “We welcome the Baroness Royall report into the Oxford University Labour Club that has found that the Club is not institutionally anti-semitic. As the new Co-Chairs of the Oxford University Labour Club we have been committed to tackling the allegations recently put before OULC. The Oxford University Labour Club condemns any prejudice, intolerance and discrimination of any form, and we take these allegations with the utmost seriousness. Anti-Semitism is abhorrent, repugnant and contrary to the values we as a Club hold dear. We fully accept all the recommendations from Baroness Royall’s report and look forward to collaborating with her and the national Labour Party in moving forward from these events.”
Anti-Semitism is abhorrent, repugnant and contrary to the values we as a Club hold dear
“In relation to Baroness Royall’s recommendations, as mentioned, we will implement each and every one as far as possible. We will enthusiastically work with all national Labour Party officers to deal with all the complaints made against the Club. We will move to affiliate to the Jewish Labour Movement as a gesture of our solidarity with Jewish people and vigorously support 8-point plan to eradicate anti-Semitism within the Labour Party.”
“We would like to establish unequivocally that no one on the current club Executive has been implicated by the findings of this report. From this, the Oxford University Labour club will continue to strive to be a welcome and diverse political society; adopting change in ourself, to replicate in our community.”
The Oxford University Labour club will continue to strive to be a welcome and diverse political society
Baroness Royall’s inquiry was launched following the resignation of one of the previous OULC co-chairs Alex Chalmers in February. Mr Chalmers resigned after the club voted to endorse Israeli Apartheid Week, stating that some members of the club had “some kind of problem with Jews” and alleged in his resignation that: “members of the Executive throwing around the term ‘Zio’ (a term for Jews usually confined to websites run by the Ku Klux Klan) with casual abandon” and “senior members of the club expressing their ‘solidarity’ with Hamas and explicitly defending their tactics of indiscriminately murdering civilians.”
There has been criticism of the Labour Party’s NEC however for failing to publish all of Baroness Royall’s report. In a blog post made on Tuesday evening, she appeared to be unhappy at the way in which her report had been represented by the party saying: “I know that you will share my disappointment and frustration that the main headline coming out of my inquiry is that there is no institutional Antisemitism in Oxford University Labour Club. That is true, but it is only part of the story.”
She went on to state that she felt that there were cultural problems at the club that meant that Jewish students did not always feel welcome.
According to the national press, a significant number of senior Labour MPs have called for the entire report to be released. The allegations made by Mr Chalmers in his resignation have been followed by a number of scandals within the party nationally. NEC member and former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended last month following a BBC interview where he said that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.’ The comments came in an attempt to defend Bradford West MP Naz Shah who had been suspended from the Labour Party for previously sharing a Facebook post suggesting that Israel should be relocated to the USA.
OULC itself has this term hosted Bassetlaw MP John Mann, one of the party’s most vociferous critics of Mr Livingstone’s comments and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against AntiSemitism., in an event before their General Meeting.
The wider report in to anti-Semitism within the Labour Party is currently being conducted by the former director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti and she is expected to make her recommendations by the end of June.