Although David Cameron faced flak over his resignation honours list, it was Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to give the chair of his anti-Semitism inquiry a peerage that attracted the most criticism.
Today Shami Chakrabarti — now Baroness Chakrabarti of Kennington — appeared on the Daily Politics where Andrew Neil. While she freely admitted that her findings were yet to be ‘fully implemented’, she also praised Corbyn’s ‘greater ever mandate’. When it was put to her that quite a lot of members and Jewish groups had suggested her report was a whitewash, she replied that she was sorry not ‘everyone’ agreed with ‘everything’ she said.
However, it was Neil’s questions regarding the timing of the whole affair that had Chakrabarti — who joined Labour ahead of chairing the inquiry — rattled:
AN: People respected you as independent. Would you not undermine that by joining the party?
SC: No, because this was a report for the party — about saying to my fellow members we have to look at ourselves in the mirror. This is the party that instigated every piece of equality legislation we’ve ever known and we have to live up to those values.
AN: But would it not have garnered more weight in the country and even in the party itself if it was seen to be done by an independent advisor?
SM: Andrew, that is one point of view and another point of view of mine is that if you want to tell people that they are falling down on their values and they need to be their better selves sometimes it is better to do that from within.
AN: But a lot of people don’t think you told any hard truths
As for her decision to accept a peerage after chairing the report?
AN: The report was published on June 30. When was the prospect of a peerage first discussed?
SC: After the report
AN: There was no discussion of a peerage with anyone in the Labour party before?
SC: I have been approached before by senior politicians. This particular peerage was offered to me after the report.
Mr S suspect this interview will bring little comfort to those already concerned about the timing of her appointment.