A dossier compiled by the female members of the Labour Party indicates that there have been dozens of instances of sexual assault and harassment at all levels across the party.
The campaign group LabourToo ran an online survey for two months at the end of last year, offering women activists the chance to anonymously report harassment, abuse, and discrimination within the Labour party. The intention of the report is to highlight and improve Labour’s response to complaints of sexual assault.
Jeremy Corbyn has been handed the final dossier of 43 separate allegations, which include allegations of serious sexual assault.
The dossier also indicates that many of the women reporting these said that complaints had been either dismissed or suppressed by the Labour Party.
“I was raped at [the party conference],” one of the women said. “A man was harassing me and wouldn’t leave me alone. I am no longer a member of the party and this at least in part played a role. I told my [regional Labour party] and an MP I trusted. No one cared.”
Another respondent said: “A committee member on [redacted] was accused of rape/sexual assault by two members. He was asked to resign from his position quietly. He got away with his reputation intact.
“It was dealt with completely unacceptably by the party and essentially covered up because of fears of how it would look to the outside world/media and damage our reputation.”
Of serious concern is the fact that some women who reported in the survey said that the mechanisms in place in the Labour Party were inadequate to deal with their complaints.
“As an intern, I was sexually harassed by a married male MP at a Labour Christmas party,” one woman said. “He got drunk and I remember he was very red in the face and started coming up behind me and stroking my arm. I felt really uncomfortable and not able to report it to the Labour party because the people I had to tell would have known him and wanted to protect him.”
Another woman said she tried to raise concerns informally, but that these were dismissed and the inappropriate behavious was merely dismissed.
“I started working as a parliamentary researcher and went to a party where one of the elderly councillors stood behind me at the bar and put his arms around me to the bar, trapping me in, rubbing his groin against my back,” she said. “I mentioned it to people and was met with ‘Well, that’s just who he is.’”
Many complaints stemmed from Senior Officials and MPs behaving inappropriately at parties or social occasion, including one trying to take advantage of a young teenager. Other issues raised by respondents included discrimination such as not allowing a woman with childcare responsibilities to attend an event – and sexist attitudes, for example, telling a woman to take an officer position because it “is nice to have something nice to look at”.
A Labour party spokesperson commented on these greatly concerning allegations, saying in a statement: “Labour is committed to continually improving our procedures, which is why Karon Monaghan QC has been appointed to make an independent assessment of the Party’s current procedures for dealing with sexual harassment and an independent specialist organisation is conducting an audit into the procedures from the perspective of those who have experienced sexual harassment.
“LabourToo’s report will feed into these ongoing reviews, which aim to ensure our procedures are as robust as possible.”
But the Labour Party is already facing scrutiny over these issues as Two Labour MPs, Kelvin Hopkins and Ivan Lewis are currently suspended after multiple women came forward with sexual harassment complaints.
A usually omnipresent tweeter, Jeremy Corbyn is yet to address these allegations.