Hiding behind a noble name the Equality and Human Rights Commission is in reality a right-wing, Tory-loving, attack dog.
Within two years under the chairmanship of former TV journalist and right-wing Labour supporter, Trevor Phillips, six out of 18 members of the Commission’s ruling body resigned, explicitly criticising him and his views about Muslims.
In March 2020, he was suspended from the Labour Party for making alleged Islamophobic statements.
Phillips’ closeness to a number of high-profile New Labour government figures, also caused concern. Peter Mandelson for instance was best man at Phillips’ wedding.
When a revolt began over his leadership, it was reported that Mandelson and Harriet Harman hatched a plan to give Phillips a seat in the House of Lords, as well as a ministerial position.
The Commission lacks independence by design. Senior figures owe their jobs to the government, which also pays their handsome salaries and funds it.
In 2017, the Commission was accused of targeting Black, Muslim, and disabled staff for compulsory redundancies.
Recently, it was reported that two former Commissioners, the only Black and Muslim commissioners remaining, said that they lost their seats in 2012 because they were considered “too loud and vocal” about racial issues.
This lack of independence has led to its purpose being subverted in order to attack the Left, Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters.
The warning signs came in September 2017, when the Commission’s Chief Executive, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said:
Anti-semitism is racism and the Labour Party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party.PoliticsHome
No major political party has ever been singled out by the Commission in this way. Even the Tories haven’t faced such scrutiny, despite being responsible for some of the worst racism in public life targeting Muslims and Black people in particular.
The number of alleged antisemitism cases in the Labour Party are minuscule, and were exaggerated as part of a pernicious smear campaign against Corbyn and his supporters. But that didn’t stop the Commission targeting the Party.
Labour had inflicted a major blow to the Tories at the 2017 general election, and fears about a potential Corbyn premiership had sent shockwaves through the Establishment.
The Tories have stacked it with business-friendly Commissioners, none of whom have a history in the anti-racist movement and many who have significant conflicting interests.
Most notably, they appear to have personal, financial, or professional interests that would have suffered under a Corbyn-led government.
• Caroline Waters worked for and holds shares in BT. Its value would have been threatened by the 2019 Labour pledge to deliver free full-fibre broadband to all by 2030.
• Suzanne Baxter worked for outsourcing firms Serco and Mitie, and holds shares in Mitie. Labour promised to move against outsourcing.
• Alasdair Henderson stood as a candidate for the Whig Party against Labour in the 2015 general election.
• Helen Mahy is a director of the energy company SSE, a company Labour pledged to bring into public ownership.
• Mark McLane is a former executive at Barclays and retains shares in the company, the value of which would have been threatened by Labour’s pledge to create a Post Bank.
• Pavita Cooper donated to the Tory party and failed to disclose it, in clear breach of the rules. Even after it was disclosed, she continued to claim that she had only donated to a friend and not to the party, a clarification that appears to be false.
These conflicting interests provide some explanation for the Commission’s skewed decision-making.
In February 2018, Young Labour proposed a one-day National Equalities conference, open to women, BAME, LGBT+, and disabled people to elect equalities officers.
Almost as soon as the conference was proposed, the Commission shut it down after faux outrage from Tory politicians. The Commission said the conference could constitute “unlawful discrimination” because it was only open to people who suffer discrimination.
A pattern of behaviour was emerging how the Commission interpreted its legal powers – singling out and undermining the Official Opposition on behalf of the Conservative Party.
In May 2019, it opened an investigation to determine whether the Labour Party had “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed, or victimised people because they’re Jewish”.
The investigation was launched following lobbying by two pro-Israel and anti-Corbyn groups: the Jewish Labour Movement’ (JLM) and the Campaign Against Antisemitism’ (CAA).
The JLM is affiliated to the Labour Party and pretends it is simply there to represent Jewish members. In fact, anyone – Jewish or not – can join, so long as they support Israel. The JLM is constitutionally bound to support Israel, to “promote […] Zionism” and the “centrality of Israel in Jewish life”.
The JLM is a member of the Zionist Federation, which is in turn a member of the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) based in Israel and is one of the four ‘National Institutions’ that, together with the Israeli government, make up the leadership of the transnational Zionist movement.
The WZO congress is the ultimate source of authority in the movement.
The chair of the CAA, Gideon Falter, is a board member of the UK branch of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), the State of Israel’s land purchasing ethnic cleansing agency; which is responsible for encouraging Zionist settlement in historic Palestine.
Until recently, the JNF was constitutionally forbidden from selling land to Arabs.
The CAA was created in 2014 to defend Israel’s reputation as a result of its war on Gaza that year. Falter says he was motivated by criticism of Israel in the media.
Unsurprisingly, Falter has form in using antisemitism as a weapon against critics of Israel. In 2009, he apparently “tipped off the media” about an allegedly false complaint of antisemitism that he had made against a Foreign Office diplomat, Rowan Laxton.
At the appeal against Laxton’s conviction, the judge sitting with two magistrates were “unanimous in agreeing that he never at any time said ‘f*cking Jews’”.
Among those who have given money to the CAA is a little-known charity called the Anglo-Jewish Association (AJA) which remains involved in the Jewish Colonization Association. Its charitable objects include “promotion of goodwill towards Israel”.
The relevance of this is that the husband of the Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Hilsenrath, was the Deputy President of the AJA when a £5,000 donation was made to the CAA in 2016.
Contrary to the commission’s rules this clear conflict of interest wasn’t disclosed.
The CAA first complained to the Commission about the Labour Party in July 2018. At a Commission board meeting to consideer the probe, Hilsenrath disclosed that she “was an active member of the Anglo-Jewish Community”.
The board decided that there was no evidence of any conflict of interest but that Hilsenrath should recuse herself from determination regarding the matter.
As a disclosure of a conflict of interest, Hilsenrath’s statement was inadequate. It is not a conflict of interest to be an ‘active member’ of any ethnic, racial or religious community.
A proper statement would have detailed the potential conflicts of interests Hilsenrath had in mind, so it could be assessed. She has never done this.
In addition to the stunning revelation that her husband had been involved in funding the CAA, there are other undisclosed conflicts.
Hilsenrath was co-founder of two Jewish schools in Hertfordshire, both self-describe as ‘Zionist’ or ‘Religious Zionist’.
The schools, in other words, inculcate a political outlook as opposed to merely a religious or spiritual one, and one that is inimical to the fostering of a culture of human rights and opposition to racism.
It is obviously inappropriate for any official or staff member of the EHRC to be a committed Zionist.
Then there is Adam Wagner, who was instructed by the Campaign Against Antisemitism to present its submission to the Commission even though he was already on an Commission’s panel of preferred counsel.
Wagner has also later stated, that he had joined the JLM, making him a formal member of the Zionist movement.
Just days before the Commission announced it would undertake an investigation into the Labour Party, Sarah Sackman, vice-chair of the JLM, was appointed to the Commission’s panel of counsel.
And in 2016, the pro-Israel Jewish Chronicle reporting the appointment of incoming Commission chair, David Isaac, announced that ‘there is a strong Jewish presence at the top’ of the Commission. This remained online until the Commission announced the inquiry into the Labour Party.
More glaringly, the Commission has refused to take any action against the Conservative Party over Islamophobia despite repeated calls from the Muslim Council of Britain about documented allegations by Tory members, including the current Tory leader.
Even Rebecca Hilsenrath has sounded alarm bells about the Commission’s lack of independence. She sent a letter to the head of the civil service, about the current Chair.
David [Isaac] regularly declines to take public positions […] Recent examples include the publication of a piece of research into the implications of losing access to EU structural funds, and the stripping of Shamima Begum’s citizenship.Rebecca Hilsenrath letter
Isaac has also written for the conservative think-tank Bright Blue, which has been provided with ‘support’ by the Commission on his watch. The think-tank also published an attack piece ‘The Corbynites and antisemitism’ written by Stephen Pollard, editor of the pro-Israel Jewish Chronicle.
It seems clear the Commission lacks independence, is institutionally racist, and has been abusing its legal mandate by attacking the Official Opposition. and playing a leading role in legitimising a McCarthyite smear campaign that gets more menacing by the day.
Watch the accompanying video by Chris Williamson https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIrqslrCMIQ
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