What a difference a year makes

Mike Katz
4 min readMar 16, 2022

This article first appeared in the Jewish News on 27 October 2021

A year ago on 29 October, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published its long-awaited report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

One year on, whilst there’s no resting on laurels, the difference between the Labour of Jeremy Corbyn which the EHRC found had unlawfully discriminated against its Jewish members and Keir Starmer’s Party is like night and day.

JLM’s decision to refer the Party to the EHRC actually came in the summer of 2018. Having spent an increasingly fruitless period trying to persuade anybody in power who might listen that the problem of anti-Jewish racism was real, was growing and required clear leadership, we’d come to the end of our tether.

It was clear our good faith — born of our 100 years of affiliation to Labour — wasn’t reciprocated. We realised the Party could not police itself and needed outside intervention. We spoke with our friend Clive Sheldon QC who explained the options and we identified that referring the Party to the equalities watchdog, the EHRC, for a breach of the law was the best way to force Labour to change. Clive referred us to James Libson and his amazing team at Mishcon de Reya who took on the daunting task.

This was high stakes — and JLM always had support from the Board, the JLC and CST — who knew that, as the sole voice of Jewish Labour members, we were uniquely placed to take this case forward.

But we still might have failed without the testimony of the whistleblowers. More than 70 former and current members of Party staff answered our call to stand up for the values that first attracted us all to Labour, some of whom put their careers on the line to do so.

They are all mensches, the true unsung heroes of this story. We’re in no doubt that their contribution made a vital difference to the EHRC taking the problem seriously and having the necessary evidence to show how Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour protected racists in order to protect his political project. The whole community owes them a huge debt of thanks.

When it finally reported, the EHRC’s conclusion was stark: the Party had broken equalities law, both in terms of unlawful harassment through the acts of our agents and unlawful indirect discrimination. It was the first and only time a major political party has been in this position.

Mike Katz

National Chair, Jewish Labour Movement. Member, Labour Party Antisemitism Advisory Board & Daily Mirror Editorial Advisory Panel. Sadly Spursy.