Who is behind the complaints about Labour antisemitism?

For those of us who have closely followed the supposed crisis of antisemitism in the Labour Party over the past few years, the leaked report “The work of the Labour Party’s Governance and Legal Unit in relation to Antisemitism, 2014–2019” has been a gripping read.

Among other nuggets of information, the report appears to reveal the identity of the individual who was responsible for half of the antisemitism complaints and a third of the antisemitism cases that the party dealt with during 2019. In a section headed “Abuse from complainants”, the report states:

“This person’s complaints are typically poorly evidenced and submitted in a format that hinders investigation. This individual repeatedly emails about the same cases, cluttering the Complaints inbox and taking staff time, as staff always have to check whether a case already exists or not, and whether or not all the evidence the complainant is providing has already been logged.

“A large proportion of the people this individual complains about are either not Party members or are already in the disciplinary process, something the complainant has been told repeatedly.

“The complainant is often rude and abusive in their replies to staff responding to his complaints. The Party is also aware that the complainant uses similar language towards people, including Labour members, on social media.”

A footnote reference reads: “For evidence cited in this section, see: 2018–19: Ben Santhouse.”

This individual will be familiar to many Labour Party members, at least under his not-hard-to-decipher pseudonym of Ben Sandhouse, which he has used on Facebook to stalk socialists he deems guilty of Jew-hatred (see for example here, here and here), including a failed attempt to infiltrate the Labour Against the Witchhunt group.

Sandhouse’s Facebook account mysteriously disappeared immediately following the leaking of the report. Which is a shame, because otherwise you’d be able to see him endorsing the view that “the racist bigot Jeremy Corbyn must be kicked out of the Labour Party”.

[Update: The Ben Sandhouse Facebook account is now back online. Here he is supporting the call for Corbyn’s expulsion.]

Ben’s Twitter account has been suddenly deleted too. Which is also a pity, because we’ve now lost his impressive record of accusing almost every Labour member he came across of being an antisemite and demanding their expulsion from the party. Owen Jones, Sam Tarry and Dave Osler are among those who have been on the receiving end of this deranged behaviour.

As the leaked report notes, Santhouse’s accusations against party members on social media were frequently accompanied by foul-mouthed abuse, “fuck off back under your rock” or variants thereof being his insult of choice.

I realise the Labour Party feels obliged to pursue allegations made about antisemitic behaviour by its members. But surely the party would have a solid argument against devoting so much of its time and resources to following up accusations from an obnoxious crank like Santhouse?

Also, if half of all the antisemitism complaints and a third of all the cases the Labour Party handled last year were from this single dubious source, it does put the party’s “crisis of antisemitism” into some sort of perspective, doesn’t it?

This article was first published on Medium in April 2020