Shami Chakrabarti

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Person.png Baroness Shami Chakrabarti  Rdf-icon.png
(Lawyer)
Shami Chakrabarti.jpg
BornSharmishta Chakrabarti
1969-06-16
London, United Kingdom
Alma materLondon School of Economics
Childrenone son
SpouseMartyn Hopper
PartySocial Democratic Party,  Labour
Known for being a long time director of Liberty, the UK civil liberties advocacy organisation, but with some interesting connections.

Employment.png Shadow Attorney General Wikipedia-icon.png

In office
6 October 2016 - Present

Employment.png Chancellor of the University of Essex

In office
2 September 2014 - 6 October 2016

Employment.png Director

In office
September 2003 - March 2016
EmployerLiberty

Shami Chakrabarti, Baroness Chakrabarti (born 16 June 1969) is a barrister involved in human rights who was appointed Shadow Attorney General by Jeremy Corbyn on 6 October 2016.[1]

From September 2003 to March 2016, she was director of Liberty, formerly the National Council for Civil Liberties.[2]

When nominated for a peerage in August 2016, she said:

“I am honoured to accept Jeremy Corbyn’s challenge and the opportunity to help hold the government to account. This is a dangerous moment for our country and we share vital human rights values that need defending more than ever before in my lifetime.”

The Board of Deputies of British Jews were critical of the nomination, saying it compromised the independence of the inquiry that she recently conducted into alleged antisemitism in the Labour party.[3]

Labour Party "antisemitism"

On 29 April 2016, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Shami Chakrabarti to chair an inquiry into alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party. As a party member, Chakrabarti said she was confident her independence would not be compromised.[4][5] The inquiry followed what Jewish author Norman Finkelstein called a “smear campaign” of “political blackmail”, which was led by right-wing media outlets and pro-Israel commentators in an attempt to undermine the Labour leader and his allies. The aim of the report was to show that Corbyn was serious about cracking down on all forms of racism present in his party.

Chakrabarti report

On 30 June 2016, Shami Chakrabarti launched her report at what should have been an incredibly positive press conference for party leader Jeremy Corbyn.[6] Instead, the mainstream media seemed to focus its efforts on kicking Corbyn while he was down rather than covering the outcome of the anti-racism report. Unfortunately, says Chakrabarti, the mainstream media’s misleading posts on 30 June “cast a shadow over two months’ really hard, open-hearted work”. While her report did find some “minority hateful or ignorant attitudes” and some “bitter incivility of discourse”, it also concluded that: "[the] Labour Party is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism." It also said:

"Labour members should be free and positively encouraged to criticise injustice and abuse wherever they find it, including in the Middle East… But surely it is better to use the modern universal language of human rights, be it of dispossession, discrimination, segregation, occupation or persecution."

Chakrabarti complained on LBC and BBC Radio 4 that the media had been "so quick today to trash our open-hearted work." She defended Jeremy Corbyn’s condemnation of stereotypes aimed at minority religious groups, which had been shamefully manipulated by a media establishment clearly out for blood.

The Labour leader had made it very clear that both antisemitism and Islamophobia were equally unacceptable, insisting:

"Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations."

As anti-Corbyn figures in politics and the media rushed to condemn this poignant comment as somehow antisemitic, which it clearly wasn’t, Chakrabarti said:

"I am a little heart-sore with the misrepresentation of those remarks about Israel… I’m really, really disappointed with the people that have spun that."

Chakrabarti finished her interview with LBC radio by praising Corbyn’s Labour party for giving her the independence to undertake such a valuable investigation, and made a very clear comparison with other parties, asking:

"Where is the inquiry in either UKIP or the Conservative Party into holocaust metaphors that have been used in the referendum campaign?"[7]

Walkout by Ruth Smeeth

Another issue ‘spun’ by the media was the walkout at the inquiry’s press conference of Ruth Smeeth, the Stoke-on-Trent North MP who previously worked as Director of Public Affairs and Campaigns at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) – a pro-Israel lobby group with historically close ties to Labour party right wingers.

Smeeth, who The Electronic Intifada has called an “Israel lobby spin doctor”, claimed she had left the press conference abruptly because an activist had “used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy'.”[8]

Momentum activist

In reality, neither the Jewish faith nor talk of a conspiracy were mentioned. The activist in question – Momentum Black Connexions (MBC) media officer and the-latest.com editor Marc Wadsworth – actually said:

"I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP, so you can see who’s working hand in hand."

The only obvious suggestion here was of alleged collusion between the Telegraph and Smeeth herself – who Wadsworth later claimed he didn’t even know was Jewish. But voices in the mainstream media desperate to smear Jeremy Corbyn and anyone vaguely supportive of him jumped all over Smeeth’s comments about possible antisemitism.

The-latest.com soon slammed the UK’s media establishment for the ensuing slander against Wadsworth, calling it “a Fleet Street concocted firestorm.”

Chakrabarti also steered away from labelling Wadsworth – an anti-racism activist and self-proclaimed “ally of the Jewish people” – an antisemite. She did claim, however, to have been “disappointed” by the comment directed at Smeeth, and insisted that it had done Labour and the cause of anti-racism “no favours”.[9]

Criticism of Prevent

In 2009 she termed the UK government's Prevent strategy aimed at preventing Muslims from being lured into violent extremism "as the biggest spying programme in Britain ... and an affront to civil liberties".[10]

Connections

Chakrabarti is an alumna of the British-American Project,[11] and a governor of the Ditchley Foundation[12][13]

In September 2014, Shami Chakrabarti took up the role as Chancellor of Essex University but resigned in October 2016 upon her appointment to Labour's Shadow Cabinet.[14]

16 June 1969| 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Labour Party exclusions: we need justice for the many not just for the fewArticle2 March 2018David RosenbergThe Labour Party's departing General Secretary Iain McNicol has done everything possible to delay or prevent the implementation of the Chakrabarti Inquiry Report which needs to be the central focus of our campaigning right now, if we are going to win justice for the many suspended and excluded by Labour, not just for the few.


References

  1. "Ex-Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti is shadow attorney general"
  2. "Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti". Who we are. Liberty80. Retrieved 3 July 2014.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  3. "Tom Watson criticises Shami Chakrabarti peerage nomination"
  4. "Anti-Semitism inquiry leader Shami Chakrabarti joins Labour". BBC News. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 17 May 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  5. Dysch, Marcus (16 May 2016). "Head of inquiry into Labour antisemitism Shami Chakrabarti reveals she has joined the party". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 17 May 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  6. "THE SHAMI CHAKRABARTI INQUIRY"
  7. "Chakrabarti defends Corbyn amid anti-Semitism row"
  8. "Sanity, Shami Chakrabarti and the Ruth Smeeth Affair"
  9. "Anti-racism report was ‘spun’ into anti-Corbyn propaganda by the media, says report author"
  10. "Government anti-terrorism strategy 'spies' on innocent"
  11. "This Year". British-American Project. 2007. Archived from the original on 7 November 2007. Shami Chakrabati of Liberty (and BAP member) will chair a session of BAP members involved in faithPage Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  12. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown (17 March 2008). "This unhealthy strain of left-wing McCarthyism". The Independent. London.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  13. "The Governors". Ditchley Foundation. Archived from the original on 26 September 2006.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  14. "Essex: Civil rights expert Shami Chakrabarti new Chancellor of Essex University". East Anglian Daily Times. Retrieved 2 September 2014.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").