Endemic misogyny, bullying and anti-Semitism found in Liverpool Labour Party

Scathing internal report says ‘nothing less than full scale reset is needed’, while city mayor admits she ‘absolutely’ recognises toxic culture described

Colin Drury
North of England Correspondent
Tuesday 20 July 2021 23:29
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Endemic misogyny, bullying and anti-Semitism have all been allowed to take root in the Labour Party in Liverpool, an internal review has found.

Red rose members in the city found themselves facing a toxic culture, lack of tolerance and unhealthy petty rivalries, the report to the national executive committee says.

“Nothing less than a full reset of the Labour Party in Liverpool is needed,” it concludes.

The scathingly frank verdict comes four months after government commissioners were sent into run parts of Liverpool City Council – which is led by Labour – following the devastating Caller Report.

In that, government inspectors detailed a dysfunctional authority in which “dubious” contracts were regularly handed out, key records were routinely destroyed and those who dared raise concerns were intimidated.

Members in the city described key figures as running parts of the local party - and the council - like a fiefdom; while, separately, there were also growing concerns about a rise in anti-Jewish sentiment following a surge in members attracted to the party by Jeremy Corbyn’s former leadership.

Now, the new Labour review – initiated as a result of The Caller Report but with a wider internal remit – appears no less excoriating.

The panel, it says, was “told of a toxic atmosphere…where often members especially women were targeted for bullying or abuse”. It was also presented with “evidence of a history of antisemitism that already has led to expulsions and suspensions”.

Asked by The Independent on Wednesday if she recognised the behavior described, Liverpool’s Labour Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson replied: “Absolutely, absolutely.”

The 50-year-old, who has previously said she only stood for election after being disheartened by the Caller Report, said she would be demanding the local party instill every one of the audit’s recommendation in full.

They include the national Labour Party taking over the MP and councillor candidate selection processes in Liverpool until June 2026 and immediately fast-tracking outstanding complaints with a guarantee of resolution within six months.

Ms Anderson said: “It’s important for Liverpool that the Labour Party – and people within the Labour Party – face up to what has gone wrong, work to put those things right and ensure they cannot happen again.”

But speaking about misogyny in politics, she added: “It’s important to remember it happens everywhere.”

She herself was elected in May after former mayor Joe Anderson (no relation) stepped down in December following his arrest by police investigating allegations of fraud, bribery, corruption, misconduct in public office and witness intimidation – a development which sparked the Caller Report.

Despite being a councillor for only two years previously, one of her first acts as the new city leader was to appoint an almost entirely new cabinet.

Yet whether the new report - authored by former government minister David Hanson - draws a line under the party’s problems in the city remains to be seen.

Only last week, Dame Louise Ellman, the former Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside accused her successor Kim Johnson of “gaslighting” over her reports of facing persistent anti-Semitism within the party.

Dame Ellman previously said she quit the seat after 22 years because of anti-Jewish discrimination - but Ms Johnson contradicted the claim saying her predecessor “was not forced out”.

Speaking about the internal report, Richard Kemp, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Liverpool Council, said: “This shows that rather than concentrating on delivering the vital services that the people of Liverpool need and deserve, the party looked inward to concentrate on factionalism and petty jealousies."

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