12/02/2020 18:20 GMT | Updated 12/02/2020 22:43 GMT

Labour Expelled 25 Members For Anti-Semitism In A Single Day, Party Reveals

But Jewish Labour Movement say the action is "too little, too late" and prompted by Equalities and Human Rights Commission probe.

Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby is said to have introduced "robust" new procedures 

Labour expelled 25 of its members in a single day over anti-Semitism allegations, party sources have confirmed to HuffPost UK.

The expulsions follow reforms that allow officials to fast-track disciplinary procedures and to review cases of social media abuse without the need for full ‘in person’ hearings with those accused.

The moves come as the party is braced for the outcome of an ongoing statutory investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into Jew hate with Labour.

The party’s leadership contenders are due to appear at a hustings hosted by the Jewish Labour Movement on Thursday.

And they clashed on Wednesday night at a BBC Newsnight hustings, where Emily Thornberry accused Rebecca Long-Bailey of failing to push for tougher action on anti-Semitism in the shadow cabinet, unlike Keir Starmer and herself.

In a terse exchange during the 50-minute debate, Long-Bailey responded: “I did, I think you’ll find.”

But Thornberry added: “Sorry, I don’t remember.”

Some of the 25 ex-members were expelled by an NEC (National Executive Committee) panel using the new expulsion powers, which were approved at Labour conference in 2019.

Others were expelled by the National Constitutional Committee (NCC), the party’s main quasi-judicial body for handling disciplinary issues, which reviewed the cases on paper rather than holding a separate hearing for each.

Party sources say that under new guidelines, the NCC hears cases which relate to social media posts on paper rather than conduct full hearings for each case, which are similar to court proceedings and can take days.

One source said: “As a result of significant reforms made since Jennie Formby became general secretary, our procedures are more effective than ever before and more robust than any other political party, and those who engage in anti-Semitism are being swiftly removed from our ranks.”

The party also points to a doubling of the size of the NCC and of staffing resources for tackling anti-Semitism.

Although there were anti-Semitism complaints and live cases in 2016 and 2017, there were no expulsions in 2016 and only one person was expelled in 2017.

Recent statistics issued by the party last month revealed 45 members were expelled for Jew hatred last year, an increase on the 10 expulsions from 2018.

Allies of Formby say she has updated previously slow, outdated procedures that were sometimes exploited by lawyers for the accused to delay processes, threaten legal action or bring legal challenges.

However critics counter that there was an influx of anti-Semitic members after Jeremy Corbyn became leader and that the lengthy legal delays were encouraged by some of his supporters.

Some former insiders say that the delay in cases heard by the NCC was caused by party staff failing to present related paperwork.

A source within the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) told HuffPost UK that the announcement appeared timed to give cover to Long-Bailey ahead of their hustings on Thursday.

Long-Bailey has been under fire for not doing enough on the NEC to combat anti-Semitism. She insists she always acted to root out the problem.

“A day before LOTO [the Leader’s office] and Southside’s [Labour HQ] favourite candidate gets a grilling on the party’s abysmal failure to deal with anti-Semitism, the party say they have expelled 25 people,” the JLM source said.

“If they had taken this kind of action four years ago...the EHRC wouldn’t be investigating the Labour Party, and we might have won the general election.

“They have only ever acted against anti-Semites when they’ve been forced to. This is far too little, far too late.”

At the JLM hustings for deputy leadership contenders on Tuesday, former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth rounded on some of them for failing to help their Jewish colleagues over anti-Semitism, calling their silence a “disgrace”.

In recent days, the party re-suspended Jo Bird, an activist who once joked about ‘Jew process’ in disciplinary procedures.

Bird was backed by some on the Left for a vacant post on the ruling NEC and some of her supporters suspect the move was designed to help Momentum-backed rivals.