‘Smoking gun’ complaints include one revolving around the same article that saw Long-Bailey sacked – yet shadow minister is still in post and complainant – a Labour staff member – has accused leadership of ignoring serious allegations
Keir Starmer’s political use of antisemitism to target the Labour party’s left has been exposed by leaked emails that show he and the party bureaucracy ignored complaints of ‘persistent’ and ‘abhorrent’ antisemitism against a centrist front-bencher – including a complaint involving the sharing of the same article that Starmer used as a pretext for sacking left-winger Rebecca Long-Bailey.
Emails sent to Starmer and acting general secretary David Evans by a Jewish member of Labour’s parliamentary staff have not only seen no action taken against Shadow defence minister Khalid Mahmood, but have not even received a response from either man.
In an email sent to Keir Starmer almost a month ago, Khalid Mahmood’s staff member Elaina Cohen lays out her complaint against her employer, who she says has suspended her ‘pre-emptively’ – and links part of her complaint to the same article that Rebecca Long-Bailey was sacked from her role as Shadow Education Secretary for tweeting. But she also alleges ‘continuing antisemitism and bullying’:
Another staff member employed by Mahmood had shared the article for which Long-Bailey was sacked – and in spite of Cohen’s complaint Mahmood had allegedly dismissed the matter as unimportant. Whatever one’s opinion of the article and its content, if Keir Starmer chooses to categorise it as antisemitic when tweeted by Long-Bailey, it must be treated the same for any front-bencher.
Yet Khalid Mahmood remains in position.
Other emails confirm that the complaint goes back months, to not long after Long-Bailey was sacked in late June – and referenced another post the complainant considered antisemitic:
The initial complaint was followed up by Ms Cohen on a number of occasions, including a chaser email to David Evans in early November, in which she reminded him that she had requested intervention several times and continued to feel victimised and abused:
In spite of this and a notification to the party from Elaina Cohen that felt she was ‘being harassed and bullied despite going through a family health crisis’, Khalid Mahmood remains in post.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Mahmood to ask for comment on Cohen’s allegations:
I have received evidence that one of your staff members has made complaints to Keir Starmer and David Evans of persistent and ‘abhorrent’ antisemitism against you, including a complaint to West Midlands police. One of these complaints related to posts by another staff member, ___________, of the Maxine Peake article for which Keir Starmer sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey. You took no action on those posts for months (though they were finally deleted this week after Labour published its EHRC plan).
Please provide your response by return on the following, as an article on it will be published on Sunday evening:
1. why did you fail to take any action over Ms _________’s social media, particularly when Long-Bailey was sacked for posting the same?
2. why did you take no action on your staff member’s complaints, except apparently to cast yourself as the victim and continue the ‘abhorrent behaviour’?
3. is your position on Labour’s front bench tenable given these complaints and your months-long inaction and Starmer’s sacking of Long-Bailey?
4why have you continued to behave in this manner to a staff member even though you must be aware that she is facing a family health crisis?
The MP responded swiftly, claiming that he could not comment until an ‘HR’ investigation is completed – :
Many thanks for your enquiry.
The questions you have raised are currently under investigation in conjunction with HR. Therefore I am unable to comment until the investigation has come to an end.
The SKWAWKBOX asked Keir Starmer:
I have received evidence that you and David Evans were informed of complaints of persistent and ‘abhorrent’ antisemitism against Khalid Mahmood by a member of his staff, including a complaint to West Midlands police. One of these complaints related to posts by another staff member of the Maxine Peake article for which you sacked Rebecca Long-Bailey. Mr Mahmood took no action on those posts for months (though they were finally deleted this week after Labour published its EHRC plan). Neither you nor Mr Evans appear to have ever responded to the complaint.
Please provide your response by return on the following and no later than 5pm tomorrow, as an article on it will be published on Sunday evening:
1. why did you sack Long-Bailey, after she made a statement agreed with you about her tweet, but took no action against Mahmood in relation to the same article even though he did nothing in response to the complaint?
2. how is your ‘blatant inaction‘ (the complainant’s words) against Mahmood compatible with your promise of ‘zero tolerance’?
3. why didn’t you/David Evans respond to the complainant – a parliamentary staff member – particularly when she has made you aware that she is in the middle of a ‘family health crisis’?
I’ve also learned that you were warned in a 25 Nov email about the “continuing antisemitism and bullying in your shadow cabinet” in relation to this situation, so you’ve been directly informed about the allegations against Khalid Mahmood since at least then, as well as being copied into earlier emails.
The email specifically asked you why you were pushing Jeremy Corbyn for an apology while ignoring the Mahmood situation and “why a different rule is applied to Jeremy Corbyn [and] Rebecca Long Bailey but not to Khalid? Do my feelings as his Jewish member of staff and Labour member not matter?“
This was significantly after the release of the EHRC report and your commitment to implement it in full. as well as months after your sacking of Ms Long-Bailey over the article the Jewish staff member referred to.
Why have you applied a double standard and isn’t this the very definition of ‘political interference’ when you apply double standards to different people over the same issue?
Eight hours after the publication deadline, no response has been received.
The complaints against Khalid Mahmood have not been proven or, apparently, even investigated yet. Regardless of the outcome, the expected procedure would be an administrative suspension while an investigation into the allegations is carried out, particularly where they involve abuse and bullying, to protect staff including the complainant. No such suspension has been imposed, nor does any other action appear to have been taken.
Opinions about whether the article that forms part of the basis for the complaint did contain antisemitic content are not relevant to the conclusion that, having decided to sack Rebecca Long-Bailey on the basis that it did, Keir Starmer is obliged to treat other MPs consistently with that decision.
Yet he has not treated Khalid Mahmood as he acted toward Rebecca Long-Bailey. Where Long-Bailey was summarily sacked from the front bench in spite of publishing a clarification that she had agreed with the party leader, Khalid Mahmood remains on the front bench – even though the allegations are far more serious and prolonged.
And whatever has been going on behind the scenes, the EHRC report – which Starmer and David Evans have said they will implement in full – was heavily critical of the lack of communication with complainants and of delays in dealing with complaints:
The EHRC’s recommendations demand “regular communication with complainants”.
It is hard to imagine any circumstances in which the handling of Ms Cohen’s complaint complies with this requirement, let alone the duty to take complaints seriously and investigate them properly.
The EHRC report bans ‘political interference’ in disciplinary matters. Yet in the case of Rebecca Long-Bailey she was summarily sacked for sharing a single article, despite agreeing a clarifying statement with Keir Starmer and publishing it promptly on her social media.
But months after a complaint was made against Khalid Mahmood in relation to the same article and more, he continues in his post, while the requirement to communicate clearly and regularly with complainants appears to have been entirely disregarded. And this situation is not a one-off.
Starmer decided to take no action in the cases of Steve Reed, who made antisemitic comments while praising Starmer’s action against Long-Bailey. He took no action against Barry Sheerman, who posted tweets linking Jewish figures with Israeli money. He took no action against Rachel Reeves, who called for a statue to be built of a notorious antisemite – and refused even to allow Labour’s National Executive to discuss it; and he has taken no action against deputy leader Angela Rayner, who is the subject of antisemitism complaint.
The case involving Elaina Cohen and Khalid Mahmood appears to be the ‘smoking gun’ that proves what left members of the Labour party – and its many critics who have resigned in disgust over Starmer’s actions – have argued since Keir Starmer took over as leader.
That he is exploiting antisemitism as a political tool to attack and drive out the left – while ignoring worse conduct, or allegations of it, on the part of his allies on the right of the party.
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