Labour Party Conference 2021: Party ends ‘dark chapter’ with new rules to tackle anti-Semitism

Reforms supported at the party’s conference include a fully independent complaints process to tackle anti-Semitism

Labour has “closed the door on anti-Semitism” within the party after members backed tough new rule changes, Sir Keir Starmer claimed.

The Labour leader said a “dark chapter” in the party’s history had now ended.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Labour published its plan for a major overhaul in response to the highly-damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into its handling of anti-Semitism under former leader Jeremy Corbyn
  • The Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the new approach adopted by Labour
  • It comes as seperate leadership reforms announced by Starmer are expected to make it harder for the left of the party to have a candidate on a future leadership ballot - the plans were backed 53.67% to 46.33%
  • Under the original proposal, the one member, one vote (Omov) system would have been replaced with a return to the electoral college made up of the unions and affiliate organisations, MPs and party members, each with an equal share
  • Those plans were abandoned with the revised proposals including a requirement for leadership election candidates to have the support of 20% of MPs, up from the current 10%

What’s been said

At a reception for party activists, Sir Keir said: “We have closed the door this evening to anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

“We’ve turned our back on the dark chapter.

“Having closed that door, that door will never be opened again in our Labour Party to anti-Semitism.

“We will be an inclusive, open, tolerant Labour Party proudly facing our country, proudly facing the world.”

Background

During the debate on the reforms at the party’s conference, former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, from the Jewish Labour Movement, said she felt “sick” being in Brighton as she feared receiving more abuse.

But she struck a defiant tone as she insisted the party is “turning the page on the blight of anti-Semitism that has infected” the party, adding to the abusers: “You failed. We’re still here.”

Labour former minister Dame Margaret Hodge ( second left) and former Labour MP Ruth Smeeth (second right) listen to speeches in the main hall on day two of the Labour Party conference (image: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Labour former minister Dame Margaret Hodge said there was “enormous relief and immeasurable hope to every Labour Party member who has been a victim of vile anti-Jew hate”.

Also in the headlines is Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner who has defended labelling senior Tories as “scum” during her speech on the opening day of the party’s conference in Brighton.

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