The Labour Party will hold a special shadow cabinet meeting next Monday amid mounting anger over its handling of the ongoing anti-semitism scandal, before Jeremy Corbyn addresses as gathering of his MPs.
The special meeting comes in the wake of a BBC Panorama documentary that alleged the Labour leader’s office had interfered in investigations of anti-semitism complaints – a charge the party has fiercely denied.
Labour MPs have voiced their anger at Labour leadership’s reaction to the documentary, which featured former staff members and whistleblowers, some of whom were issued with legal threats for breaching non-disclosure agreements in their contracts.
Several former staff members told the BBC their mental health had suffered under the pressure of handling anti-semitism complaints while having their work scrutinised by allies of Mr Corbyn at party HQ.
At a meeting of the parliamentary Labour party (PLP) last night, MP Louise Ellman told colleagues the documentary was “a shame and a scourge and the leader’s response was disgraceful”.
PLP chairman John Cryer told MPs that the party’s stance towards whistleblowers was “a gross misjudgment” and added: “We’ve got racists in the Labour Party and they’re not being dealt with.”
And Siobhan McDonagh angrily told her MP colleagues: “The party of the workers? Don’t make me sick.”
Mr Corbyn is understood to have spoken to staff at the party’s HQ on Monday.
Meanwhile, senior Labour peers have offered to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism in the party, as they warned Mr Corbyn that without full openness it is “a cancer that will continue to grow”.
Baroness Smith of Basildon, the shadow leader of the Lords, was among signatories to a letter to Mr Corbyn in which the Labour Peers Group offered to establish a small panel to review the substance of allegations made in last week’s Panorama programme.
The group’s chairman Lord Harris of Haringey, shadow deputy leader of the Lords Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, and shadow chief whip Lord McAvoy also signed the letter.
They suggested they draw upon the trade union, legal and other experiences of the group to “provide advice and support on how a properly independent complaints process could be set up and run”.
And the peers offered to use the group’s corporate governance experience to “propose how the party’s governance arrangements can be improved”.
They wrote: “The purpose of these proposals is to ensure that the Labour Party can regain the trust of its members, supporters and the wider public.
“As the leader of our Party you have a responsibility to ensure that we do this.
“In particular, you need to demonstrate decisive leadership that Labour is determined and committed to do everything possible to remove anti-Semitism, and those that defend it, from our Party.
“Without full openness, this is a cancer that will continue to grow and, in hurting us, it will most hurt those that need a Labour Government. We are prepared to do all we can to assist.”
It came as more than 200 former and current Labour staffers wrote to Mr Corbyn asking for more support for whistleblowers.
And Labour staffers in the GMB union have submitted a motion for discussion at their branch meeting which calls for an apology for the party’s response. The emergency motion says there is a “mental health crisis” among Labour Party workers.