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Corbyn speaks out on Forde report – and team provides analysis

Former Labour leader on Forde report on sabotage and racism by right-wing party staff

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spoken out about the two-years-delayed Forde Report.

The report, issued today, has been widely criticised for whitewashing deliberate sabotage and for ‘both-sidesing’ some of its criticisms without foundation, but has also confirmed racism, purges, the weaponisation of antisemitism and more on the part of right-wing then-staffers.

Corbyn said:

The Forde Report casts an important light on events in the Labour Party in recent years. My election as leader in 2015 was a major shock in British politics. It wasn’t about me, but a popular demand for anti-austerity politics following the 2008 financial crisis and 35 years of market fundamentalism.

Despite overwhelming support from members and affiliates, powerful groups in the party found that change hard to come to terms with. This led to a conflict in Labour that created a toxic environment, which the Forde Report lays bare. In any party there are groups and factions, but the resistance we were faced with went far beyond that.

It included the secret diversion of campaign funds by senior HQ staff in the 2017 election, which Forde rightly condemns as “unequivocally wrong”. Whether or not that prevented the election of a Labour government, it was dishonest. In a democratic party those decisions should be taken by the elected leadership. Too often the will of the membership was overridden by people who thought they shouldn’t have had a say in the first place.

Whatever arguments there are about specific findings, this report should help us see a path forward. The politics of the many, not the few, are more needed in this country than ever. We suffer a cost of living scandal while billionaire wealth soars and climate breakdown accelerates while fossil fuel companies boast record profits. For the Labour Party to be the vehicle for a better and sustainable world, things need to change.

The appalling behaviour that Forde calls out, including the repulsive racism and sexism shown to Diane Abbott and others, should have no place in a progressive party. Toxic factionalism is far from over – nor are persistent problems of racism and sexism – and action must be taken, as Forde makes clear.

Most of all, the Party needs to decide what it is for and who decides that. Are we a democratic socialist party, run by members and affiliated unions, that aims for a fundamental transfer of wealth and power from the few to the many? Or are we something else?”

Corbyn’s team has also compiled notes on some of its findings on the report’s

1. Undermining Labour’s 2017 General Election operations, including by using of Ergon House to divert funds during that election:

“Some senior HQ staff had the ability to implement resourcing decisions covertly. A handful of staff in Ergon House created an additional fund for printing costs under code GEL001 (spending some £135,000 in total on campaigns supportive of sitting largely anti-Corbyn MPs and not on campaigns for pro-Corbyn candidates in potentially Tory winnable seats).” p.66

“The decision to set up the Ergon House operation covertly and divert money and personnel there without the authority of the Campaign Committee, whilst not illegal, departed from the approved strategy; it was as such wrong.” p.66

“It was unequivocally wrong for HQ staff to pursue an alternative strategy covertly… We are absolutely clear that this should never have happened, and we consider that the anger amongst the membership regarding the issue is justified.” p.69

“It is true, however, that members of the SMT WhatsApp groups were focused on what they saw as protecting the party from Jeremy Corbyn, rather than helping him to advance his agenda… some comments do appear to show straightforward attempts to hinder LOTO’s work.” p.57

2. Other examples of efforts to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership:

“The conviction that the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership (be it brought about by the PLP or electoral disaster) would be good for the party underpinned, and was reinforced by, the WhatsApp discussions… It seems to us indisputable that it gave rise to a conflict of interests.” p.35

“In our view the intention and effect of both validation exercises was to remove ballots from individuals who would otherwise have voted for Jeremy Corbyn.” p.46

“By 2015, the majority of the Party’s senior staff did not see their roles as requiring perfect neutrality, or even the appearance of it”. p.28

3. Culture of racism, sexism and abuse:

The Report comments on WhatsApp messages from a group containing the then most senior officials in the Party, including the then General Secretary.

The Report re-publishes some of those comments, including comments about Diane Abbott describing her as “truly repulsive” and “a very angry woman”, a common slur against black women. The Report says “the criticisms of Diane Abbott are not simply a harsh response to perceived poor performance – they are expressions of visceral disgust, drawing on racist tropes, and they bear little resemblance to the criticisms of white male MPs elsewhere in the messages.” p.83

“We have reviewed the SMT WhatsApp transcripts in full… It has been put to us by a number of witnesses that the extracts of the messages quoted in the Leaked Report were cherrypicked and selectively edited, such that the quotes that appear in the Leaked Report are both unrepresentative and misleading. Having reviewed the transcripts and considered evidence from many of those involved, we do not agree. We find that the messages in the SMT WhatsApp reveal deplorably factional and insensitive, and at times discriminatory attidues expressed by many of the Party’s most senior staff.” p.25

“Senior management… appeared to do nothing to detoxify staff relations in the organisation or improve the working culture in the Party. On the contrary, it appears that the most senior levels of management engaged in this sort of abuse.” p.104

“We have taken into account that many of the comments were made in jest and were not intended seriously or literally (contrary, on occasion, to the Leaked Report’s framing of them); that does not in our view negate all criticism of them. It is (or should be) self-evident that saying that you hope someone has been run over by a train, or that someone deserves to die in a fire, is reprehensible even if you are “joking”; for Party staff to consider such “jokes” acceptable in relation to colleagues or Party members suggests to us that they had become detached from both professional and personal norms.” p.34

“A number of the authors of the Whatsapp messages have been subject to disciplinary proceedings as Party members, which were instigated shortly after the unsanctioned release to the media of the Leaked Report, largely on the basis of the messages quoted within it. The majority of those proceedings have now concluded, with a range of sanctions applied by the NEC. Needless to say those proceedings were wholly separate to this Inquiry and we are not performing a disciplinary function or second guessing the process. In other cases which we considered, however, and which were dealt with during the period we were commissioned to review, we gained the impression that the strength of staff disciplinary outcomes – just like disciplinary procedure regarding members as discussed later in this report – reflected a dependence on a narrow factional majority on the NEC in one direction or the other. That prime facie suggested a series lack of objectivity and fairness, and represented an unhealthy position for the Party itself – and for its staff.” p.36

The report concludes that “there are serious problems of discrimination in the operations of the Party” including “the undoubted overt and underlying racism and sexism apparent in some of the content of the WhatsApp messages between the Party’s most senior staff.” p.81

The Report quotes from responses to the Inquiry’s Call to Evidence about experiences of racism, sexism and Islamophobia within the Party from pages 85 – 89

4. Factionalism affecting disciplinary processes and resulting in a “hierarchy of racism or of discrimination”:

“Concerns that the attention to the surge of cases relating to antisemitism and the importance appeared to play in the interfactional conflict meant that the Party was in effect operating a hierarchy of racism or of discrimination with other forms of racism and discrimination being ignored.” p.81

Quotes from submissions to the Inquiry about experiences of a hierarchy of racism can be found at page 90.

“It is clear from the extensive internal discussions we have seen between staff engaged in ‘trot hunting’ that they did not understand it to be a factionally neutral task.” p.44

“In our view the intention and effect of both validation exercises was to remove ballots from individuals who would otherwise have voted for Jeremy Corbyn.” p.46

“In our view, however, this was by and large a factionally slanted exercise, designed and carried out with a startling lack of transparency, which had the goal of undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s chances in the leadership elections. It cemented mistrust of the motives of HQ staff in LOTO. It also embedded an extremely damaging conviction amongst parts of the membership that the Party’s disciplinary system was rigged against them; this allowed the false idea that complaints of antisemitism were being fabricated as part of a “witch hunt” to take hold more easily than it otherwise would have, and made the handling of complaints in the years ahead substantially harder. Moreover the extent of this validation exercise (or ‘Trotspotting’ depending on your factional point of view) was undoubtedly demanding on the time and priorities of several GLU staff. In that sense it seems to us that at least to a degree it is correct to assert that it did divert GLU staff from a focus on complaints and disciplinary action on antisemitism and other disciplinary cases.” p.45

5. Use of antisemitism used as a factional weapon

“The report thoroughly disproves any suggestion that antisemitism was not a problem in the Party or that it was a “smear” or a “witch hunt. This presented a mature acknowledgment of the problem. Sadly though some still deny the existence and seriousness of the problem, or the need to take action to combat it, as the Party has now begun to do. It was of course also true that some opponents of Jeremy Corbyn saw the issue of antisemitism as a means of attacking him. Thus, rather than confront the paramount need to deal with the profoundly serious issue of antisemitism in the Party, both factions treated it as a factional weapon.” p.6-7

6. Misrepresentations to the media about LOTO “interference”:

During the spring of 2018…LOTO staff provided input on some antisemitism cases after it was sought, sometimes insistently, by HQ staff, who refused to proceed until they had it…We find that LOTO staff responded to the requests, for the most part, in reasonably good faith. We note that their responses were subsequently used to form the basis of  wholly misleading media reports which suggested that LOTO staff had aggressively imposed themselves on the process against HQ’s wishes”. p.37

“Based on the evidence we have seen, however, we consider that the narrative put forward in relation to (in particular) the March to April 2018 emails was partial and misleading”. p.51

“In our view it is entirely misleading to imply that these emails in themselves were evidence of those LOTO staff members inserting themselves unbidden into the disciplinary process for factional reasons”. p.51

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  1. He even handles the appalling delay of the Forde Report – and the covert destruction of Labour’s electoral appeal by factional interests – with dignity and composure. This is a true leader, principled and fair. Right side of history.

  2. Call me a cynic, but isn’t it rather convenient to finally publish the Forde’s report during:
    – A Tory leadership context?
    – In July and during a heat wave?
    I wonder how the BBC, ITV, SKY and other media will report on the Forde’s conclusions. How many minutes of air time would it be given in comparison to the Tory leadership.

    1. Maria Vazquez
      It’s exactly what I think. Although it doesn’t stop the media from reporting on the Inquiry. Parliament is about to into summer Recess tomorrow.
      It’s now being reported on 4News. Shamefully all for about 30 seconds. Concentrating on the investigation into antisemitism and the accusation of it being used factionally by both sides. No mention of what was going on by those mentioned in the leaked report. Disappointing to say the least.

    2. This was my comment too – on a previous thread ..
      and my conclusion was by this means it was hoped
      the Forde Report would be brushed under the

      Well it seems that it has not! Not only that but the
      media who have enjoyed a prey (viz Johnson and
      the warring Tory Party) are now seizing on another ..
      not to their credit for it adds to the “they’re all the
      same ..” and cynicism.

      I’m glad the Left have sized the opportunity to draw
      appropriate conclusions from the Report and
      make them known.

      I don’t think Starmer is named in the Report is he?
      It will be interesting to see his response ..

      Also of note – there are several law suits on the go,
      one from ex-staffers complaining about the leak and
      naming individuals. The other is a previous claim
      of sexual harassment from two Labour Party members
      who had then resigned and then refused to sign
      NDA s but left without compensation .. These two
      are amongst those accused of leaking the original
      report ..

      I see the BBC in their headline used a “both sides”
      approach but then recount further details in the
      body of the report.

  3. ” Thus, rather than confront the paramount need to deal with the profoundly serious issue of antisemitism in the Party, both factions treated it as a factional weapon.”
    “..both factions treated it as a factional weapon” – It will be interesting to see what evidence they cite to support this assertion. Off the top of my head, I can’t recall any instances of “the left” making spurious allegations of antisemitism against those on the right.

  4. I think this is a very good summary, at short notice.

    I shall wait for a fuller review from Craig Murray, Peter Oborne, or someone like Alex Nunns.

    JC has posted on Facebook, if anyone wants to have a look.

    1. George – Instead of waiting you could download the full report and read it for yourself.

    2. Is it possible for the Labour Party to become other than a pale imitation of the Tories now? What would it take?

      1. Andy, no idea. However pale, this report will not bring members. The CLP mean nothing but subs.

  5. Can someone explain how creating a slush fund to support your preferred candidates rather than those with a chance of taking seats from Tories did not affect the result and is not illegal
    Genuinely am I missing something, are they not judged by the same laws as the rest of us
    Never mind the media, where are the Big Beasts in the Labour movement and what are they going to do about it
    Hope that’s JC offering his services to a new party at the end of his response

      1. Labour who?

        Too little way to late, I will never come back and this awful party can go the way of the damn Dodo as far as i care. I campaigned, voted for, walked the streets heck even stood once wearing the rosette no longer and I will not allow myself to get bitter and have any real interest. Yes I watch the left wing blogs and chat to old comrades but lets be honest the rots too deep. there isn’t enought to save even if we wanted to best we start again and make damn sure right wing entresm never ever is allowed to enter and corrupt a socialist party.

        This sad report just shows us why should we waste our time when were not respected or listened to. Oh they claim to want our money, vote and help but in reality they just want us to do all the work and they swan around being the big I am MP.

        Off to PAL me my money, help and vote will go I think…

  6. “Some anti-Corbyn elements of the party seized on antisemitism as a way to attack Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters saw it simply as an attack on the leader and his faction – with both ‘sides’ thus weaponising the issue.”

    Thus what? It looks like ‘both sides’ has been shoehorned in to deliberately obscure and mislead people into believing ‘both sides’ somehow suggests both sides are equally at fault … they weren’t and aren’t.

    Anyone using ‘antisemitism’ allegations as their weapon of choice to achieve political outcomes, is obviously behaving far worse than the side seeing those allegations as largely factional driven. The report confirms those ‘weaponisation’ suspicions were correct.

  7. Does anyone understand civil law enough to advise would members have a case regarding the £135,000 of their subs,contributions etc that were used nefariously?

    1. Unless you signed a contract that detailed what they was going to do with your money basically no chance. Electorally laws equally very hard to prove were bent. So no joy there.

      All your going to do is give some ambulance chasing young hotshot Lawler a bunch of your money to throw after the money we already lost! But heck it’s your money and life don’t listen to me…

      Yes It sucks and hell no I don’t like this! Welcome to the crappy UK they have all the power and protection and it sucks!

  8. There must also be consideration of the prosecution of members of staff who acted in a manner contrary to the objectives of the party.
    Again – Professional advice would be welcome.

    1. Indeed…. Those who leaked the report MIST hang.

      Isn’t that right, wee nonce apologist steve h?

  9. So let me “get it” because I can’t get a grip on how racist employees diverted campaign funds for their own purposes…and nobbled an election can be tolerated by those still funding this shitshow of a labour party without as a group approaching the police and the SFO….ITs there in plain English and they also took another six hundred and fifty thousand of your money as a “extra from Starmer LTD and his misfits.?Mind you looking at our court case of missing info anything can happen whilst you keep funding the labour party parasites.

  10. Jeremy was never going to be allowed back into New New Labour, would he want to? Jezza has to decide his next move. Carring on as an isolated, and largley ignored, independent looks pointless.

  11. Well its been reposted on my Facebook – to an appropriate group. I think its an excellent summary .. balanced and calm .. unlike some of the stuff from Starmer Central. Obviously the whip should be restored to Corbyn but what can be done other than us spreading the truth around?

  12. When I was employed in a responsible position in industry … If I’d been discovered stealing or misusing my employer’s resources, and found to be working to frustrate their business, then I could have been sued and PROSECUTED for “breach of trust”.
    Breach of trust is taken very seriously by the courts, as they usually come down on the side of the employers.
    I’m an engineer – Not a legal expert – But I can’t see how this doesn’t apply here.
    Especially – as the crime would appear to be CONSPIRACY to commit breach of trust – Even more serious.

    1. Breach of trust information is here:
      In particular:
      “A breach of trust is a violation of a law, contract, or obligation that gives an individual the right to expect honest and fair treatment from another party. Breaches of trust can range from deception about a product’s quality, quantity, or price to underpaying agreed-upon wages. When a breach of trust is made knowingly and with intent to deceive, it is considered fraud. When it involves gross negligence, it is called malicious falsehood, and when it is wilful it is called perjury.
      If one acts dishonestly or maliciously to breach the trust of another party by deception, he may be taken to court for his actions. There are two types of offences that constitute a breach of trust: criminal and civil. Criminal offences include fraud and criminal breach of trust under the Fraud Act 2006. One or more plaintiffs in court bring a civil action to recover damages for losses caused by a party’s fraudulent conduct.”
      “When an employee owing a fiduciary duty to his employer causes harm to the employer by improperly using the information or resources entrusted to him.”
      “The fair and honest treatment of another person is a fundamental principle of law.
      When looking at the criminal breach of trust offences in the UK, there are three main elements to the offence:
      A special relationship of trust between the parties involved in the offence;
      That the relevant conduct was dishonest or fraudulent
      That the relevant conduct caused loss or damage to the claimant.
      The relevant conduct consists of one party being unduly put at risk by another, deceitfully deprived of its property, deceived about an expectation of performance, caused to enter into a contract, etc.
      The standard required by law is that there is a duty placed on an individual owing a particular relationship with another individual to act in his best interests. The victim is therefore owed a duty of care and must be protected from harm stemming from this duty.”
      There would appear to be a good case for the involvement of Inspector Knacker.

      1. Can we assume then, that Ian Mcnicol acted against the interests of his employers, for one.

      2. Two Cheeks
        If the prick you rely on was working for any other entity what would happen to him, its fraud plain and simple
        Still cannot believe going rogue and working for the Tories in a General Election is not an offence against Democracy and still carries the death penalty
        The list of MP’S he chose to defend FFS

      3. goldbach
        JC needs to cherry pick a target and go for them all guns blazing

    2. johnsco1, this is why the Forde’s Report has been written very carefully, to avoid such eventuality.
      The Report doesn’t exonerate the left but, rather talk about factionalism on both sides and comes short of describing the actions of the right as sabotage, instead stating that the higher up right wing staff acted in the believe that they were doing the best to protect the Party.
      However, their isn’t a reason to justify the Party paying six figures sums in compensation to these people. I am not sure as to whatever the NEC voted in favour of these payments or Evans as General Secretary decided to pay compensation on his own accord.
      If the NEC didn’t approve the payments,we should all (including former members of the LP) submit complaints against Evans demanding his resignation.
      The Trade Unions should consider submitting an emergency motion to Labour Conference demanding his resignation. Hence, all of us should write to our trade unions political officers and lobby to ensure that Evans is sack as General Secretary of the Labour Party.

      1. Maria – I’m guessing that there was a reason why all three leadership candidates made it clear during the 2020 leadership campaign that they would compensate the Panorama claimants.
        This is what RLB (the left’s candidate) said:-
        ““I don’t think the party gave the right response [to the Panorama program]. We should not have called out or attacked former members of staff… We should apologise for how we behaved. We should settle any claims that were made.” She also confirmed that she would welcome Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman back into the party, saying what they “have been through was absolutely shocking”.

      2. SteveH, I never paid any attention to RLB from the moment that she went to the Guardian telling the left to support her friend Rayner for the position of Deputy Leader. I wonder were is the friendship now since Rayners not longer shares a flat with RLB.
        See point 6 above: it was members of the GLU that involved LOTO on commenting on cases of antisemitism, and them misrepresented LOTTO’s involvement, see pg 37 of the report.
        Also as result of the GLU prioritising finding “Trots” the GLU neglected investigating complaints on Antisemitism, see point 4 above and pgs 45 and 46 of the report.

      3. Maria – When I saw the list of candidates for the leadership of the LP, I thought that it would have been prudent for the ballots to have had a tick box for “none of the above”. All three were peely-wally.

    1. This bit, from the Report’s Forward, is particularly interesting:

      “In the report’s foreword, Forde even writes about how “within minutes” of the NEC confirming his appointment he started to “receive emails from some of those named in the leaked report, and lawyer’s letters threatening me and other panel members with legal action.” ”

      If they had nothing to hide they nothing to fear. Yet from the outset these criminal thieves and frauds sought to cover their entitled arses by threatening those charged with investigation with legal action.

      What I am most looking forward to is how this site resident Uriah Heep is going to spin or deflect this blatant attempt to nobble a legal investigation which, given the final content of the Report, most definitely succeeded.

  13. As have several other commenters, I cannot think of any instances of the left using antisemitism to attack the right. But the issue goes far beyond this because of the pick-up of our compliant MSM. I’m even more certain that I can’t recall (for example) the Guardian or the BBC reporting instances ‘racist’ antisemitism by right-wingers against the left, only vice versa and absolutely never with any back-up evidence. Here-say was always good enough for the nation’s foremost broadcaster.

    Sadly, it’s all rather too late to salvage the Party.

      1. Nuances are funny things SteveH. The only people who see them are usually the ones who want to. The key premises, evidence and examples provided by the much-delayed Forde Report make ‘nuances’ irrelevant. There’s enough clarity and substance in the report to make fine distinctions unnecessary.

    1. The members of the labour party may finally realise that they have been emasculated and de…democratized whilst the people who are the labour party…The PLP and HQ ridicule and take the funding for granted.from members hard earned money and pensions even.Although we all take it for granted that a labour government under the regime will exploit the population who would have thought that they would also siphon off members money to use for whatever purpose they wish.Thats about the only detail thats of any use coming out of this so called enquiry that as clearly been nobbled over 2years whilst starmer searched for somthing to put the fire out and hobble Ford himself.
      disgusted but nobody can be suprised and hopefully it will give Corbyn the reason to move on to somthing better than the calamity labour party.

  14. Where is the evidence for Forde’s claim that anti-Semitism was a problem within Labour? Is it a problem when in a Party of 500,000 only 2,000 are accused, and hardly any of those accusation proven? Not even 0.5% of members were accused. Is that a problem? It would be surprising if there were not a 0.5% incidence of shoplifting, or domestic violence, or alcoholism within Labour. Are they “problems”? The point is that Labour was accused of “institutional anti-Semitism” and there is no evidence for that. Corbyn was called a racist and there is no evidence for that. Follow the evidence.

    1. Quite so, Frank.
      In my recollection, a very small number of people were expelled from the LP for “antisemitism”. Most of the expulsions a have knowledge of were for “bringing the party into disrepute”. This is very akin to David Millar being sacked by the University of Bristol for bringing it “into disrepute” – he was found not to be antisemitic, but the fact that there had been a furore in the media constituted “bringing into disrepute”. It’s the same in the LP. Make accusations of antisemitism. Leak it to the supportive media. No antisemitism found. Expel for the disrepute brought about by it being all over the media. It’s Catch 22.
      Meanwhile, I am ploughing through the the turgid report. Others have been much more persistent that I, and JVL publishes a number of commentaries. Here’s the link
      I await Andrew Feinstein’s assessment.

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