Within minutes of the announcement of his inquiry, Forde tells us, he was inundated with emails from those mentioned in the leaked report and their lawyers threatening “legal action if we examined data referred to in it”. It, of course, is the leaked report, to which Forde ascribes initial capitals, Leaked Report, but its full title is The Work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in Relation to Antisemitism 2014-2019. It is this report and its leaking which prompted the Forde Inquiry.
Many of those mentioned in the Leaked Report were less than cooperative:
Some crucial staff members had moved on, and we had no powers of compulsion; and others had sought legal advice as well as having provided statements to two other enquiries. … Some promised further documents, which were never supplied; some were accompanied by lawyers. It was concerningly difficult to gather vital minutes of meetings and to understand the rationale for decisions. Key documents were unavailable; others were not supplied and details of of meetings were not recorded.
They were, however, able to make their own submission to the EHRC. And they were also, of course, minded to contribute to the now infamous Panorama programme, Is Labour Antisemitic?.
The main narrative of the programme was that Corbyn’s office lined up to involve themselves in a number of disciplinary processes. Selected (and selective) quotes from emails were used to back up the staff members’ accounts. It was damning and convincing. But as the Forde Report makes clear, the emails were edited to reverse their meanings, and the only contributions from LOTO were by invitation - “insistent” invitation from HQ staffers. There is no evidence of any attempt by LOTO’s office to “interfere unbidden in the disciplinary processes in order to undermine the Party’s response to allegations of antisemitism”.
In other words, the programme was bullshit.
Which did not prevent Ofcom rejecting 28 detailed complaints. But which probably explains the recent withdrawal of John Ware’s libel suit against Jeremy.
But it is evidence of the ‘group-think’ which prevailed in the political and media elites.
They refused to publish the fact that HQ staff based in Ergon House secretly transferred funds in support of right wing MPs. Forde says they did and it was “wrong”.
They failed to report the evidence of misogyny, racism and sexism within the HQ senior management team. Forde makes it clear that there is such evidence and recounts it.
They failed to point out that the suspensions and expulsions which they glorified were the result of specialist software and thousands of hours of internet scouring, which justified disciplinary action. The compliance team would ring bells to celebrate a suspension or expulsion.
You didn’t read that in The Guardian. I read it in the Forde Report.
I recommend that you do also. We need to understand what has happened to our party in the last half dozen years.
Without the factional, racist and sexist of activity of senior management, we may have won the election in 2017.
Without it, Starmer would not have been leader.
Without it, the UK would be a better place.
But it did happen. All of the above. And more. And we must face the consequences.
Today from the everysmith vaults: At the funeral of my friend Peter Nelson last Monday, the service scheduled a time for reflection, during which was played Blue in Green from Kind of Blue by Miles Davis. Still reflecting, still playing.