Back in early December I complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) about the fact that their launch of an investigation into alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party could be seen as lacking impartiality. This reflected the fact that complaints about alleged Islamaphobia in the Tory Party were rife at the time. Why single out one party for an inquiry into racism? I received the EHRC’s response a couple of days ago. After a lengthy discourse on their strategic aims and concerns for a civilised political discourse, one paragraph towards the end got round to telling me that my complaint was not upheld. This is one of those non-explanation explanations:
The current investigation is defined by its Terms of Reference. The type of inquiry you are suggesting, including all political parties, would clearly be very different to the current investigation in scope and timescale. We therefore do not consider it would be appropriate to widen it in the way you suggest.
So change the bloody terms of reference! Oh dear, the 11th commandment decrees that Thou Shalt Not Change The Terms Of Reference. Transparency and balance doesn’t come in to it. Consequently I am forced to pursue my own investigation into the EHRC. This begins today with an FOI request:
a) Between 1st January 2015 and 31st December 2019, how many complaints about racism has the Commission received for each of the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties, broken down by month and by the form of racism complained of (e.g. anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, etc.)
b) Over the same period, how many complaints about racism has the Commission received about other bodies, public or private, broken down as in (a).
c) Over the same period, how many investigations into allegations of racism (broken down as in (a) above) has the Commission launched regarding other bodies, public or private.
d) The terms of reference of the Commission's investigation into the Labour Party states (Paragraph 8) that the Commission 'may' have regard to the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism whilst recognising that this definition is not legally binding. Please provide the legal definition of anti-Semitism the Commission WILL use in this investigation whether or not it chooses to use the IHRA non-legally binding definition. I note that this investigation is being carried out by the Commission using its legal powers provided by the 2006 Act.
We haven’t heard the last about this.