News, Culture & Society

Labour MPs demand Jeremy Corbyn ‘adequately tackles’ anti-Semitism

Labour’s general secretary provoked fury as she claimed it was impossible to stamp out anti-Semitism from the party.

At a stormy meeting in Parliament, Jennie Formby – a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn – rejected MPs’ demands to say how many cases of anti-Semitism Labour is still dealing with.

Angry Labour politicians said they had received threats but that the party had done nothing to deal with them.

MPs said it was ‘not acceptable’ for the party leadership to appear to have given up the fight against the ‘cancer’ of anti-Semitism.

The meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) unanimously passed a motion demanding details within a week of how officials are dealing with complaints.

MPs asked to know how many outstanding cases of anti-Semitism Labour still needs to investigate and how many are due to be considered by its ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).

They asked how many Labour officials are investigating complaints, the names of organisations lined up to provide anti-Semitism training, and how many members who have been through the disciplinary process are waiting to start such training.

Labour MPs tonight demanded Jeremy Corbyn (pictured last week in Derbyshire) ‘adequately tackle’ anti-Semitism in the party’s ranks amid growing frustration the problem has still not been tackled

But Mrs Formby rejected the call, saying the NEC had decided not to publish the data. She said: ‘I don’t answer to the PLP. I answer to the NEC.’

And she added: ‘It is impossible to eradicate anti-Semitism and it would be dishonest to claim to be able to do so.’

Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger, who needed a police escort at last year’s party conference, said: ‘There is a community that are hurting and we have a responsibility as a party to root this out, and one anti-Semite in our ranks is one too many.

‘And yet we were told by the general secretary today that we cannot eradicate anti-Semitism. Well frankly that’s not good enough.’

Dame Margaret Hodge, who was threatened with disciplinary action for accusing Mr Corbyn of being an anti-Semite, said: ‘If you want to get rid of the cancer of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party you have to have complete transparency and she’s refusing to do that.’

Labour MP Wes Streeting said: ‘In not giving us the data, she’s ruled out any possibility of Jewish members and Jewish constituents having confidence in the Labour Party’s ability to tackle this.’

Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said: ‘Jennie Formby’s appalling rebuff to her own MPs shows once again that Labour’s leadership has no intention of tackling anti-Semitism.’

Mr Corbyn was not due to attend the meeting in Parliament but Labour’s general secretary Mrs Formby promised MPs she was taking the problem seriously. 

Mrs Formby originally promised to deal with all outstanding cases by July, then by the party conference in September and then by Christmas. Yet still the promise has not been met.

A Labour source said: ‘Jennie Formby gave a comprehensive update on the significant work that’s been done to strengthen and speed up procedures and addressed the points in the motion.’

Mrs Formby earlier told the Labour List website she was ‘personally committed to ensuring Jewish members feel safe and welcome in our party.’

Labour MPs tonight also demanded Jeremy Corbyn ‘adequately tackle’ anti-Semitism in the party’s ranks amid growing frustration the problem has still not been tackled.

The Parliamentary Labour Party – including all MPs and peers – unanimously passed a motion accusing the party’s ruling committee of treating cases ‘leniently’.

It demands answers from the ‘party leadership’ to 11 questions, including on how many cases are outstanding and when a promised anti-Semitism code will be delivered.  

The motion says: ‘The PLP calls on the party leadership to adequately tackle cases of anti-Semitism, as a failure to do seriously risks anti-Semitism in the party appearing normalised and the party seeming to be institutionally anti-Semitic.’ 

Following the meeting, MP Darren Jones said: ‘Important to make it clear that zero tolerance is zero tolerance.

‘I’ll continue to refer any Labour Party member who is shown to be antisemitic and I expect my party to investigate and where appropriate expel. Not welcome in my Labour Party.’ 

Labour MP, Luciana Berger, the Parliamentary chairwoman of Jewish Labour, said she was 'sick of being tainted by the stain of Labour antisemitism' 

Labour MP, Luciana Berger, the Parliamentary chairwoman of Jewish Labour, said she was ‘sick of being tainted by the stain of Labour antisemitism’ 

Karen Buck added: ‘Solidarity with our Jewish MPs and Jewish Labour pressing for faster, more effective action against this poison, and tragically, facing unacceptable levels of abuse as they do so.

‘We must do much, much better.’

Tonight’s motion was tabled by Catherine McKinnell and signed by Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth.

Writing in Jewish News today, Ms McKinnell said: ‘I have watched with a growing sense of dismay the worrying and distressing reports which would suggest that rather than dealing with this issue, the rhetoric of zero tolerance to antisemitism doesn’t appear to match up to reality.

‘Questions I have asked time and again in private to the party leadership about how these issues and concerns are actually being addressed have been met with repeatedly vague responses.’ 

She added: ‘Despite the warm words and promises of action, far too many cases of antisemitism remain unresolved, whilst often serious complaints are apparently being concluded with letters simply ‘reminding’ perpetrators of what is appropriate behaviour with no further sanction beyond that.’ 

Luciana Berger, the Parliamentary chairwoman of Jewish Labour, said in The Times today: ‘I am sick of being tainted by the stain of Labour antisemitism. I am increasingly concerned that Labour’s disciplinary committees are turning a blind eye to hatred towards Jews.

‘It is so damaging to Labour’s standing for the row over antisemitism to rumble on week after week. This is not the party I joined.’ 

Tonight's motion was tabled by Catherine McKinnell and signed by Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth and demands answers to 11 questions by the Labour leader 

Tonight’s motion was tabled by Catherine McKinnell and signed by Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth and demands answers to 11 questions by the Labour leader 

In a message to Labour MPs published by the Labour List site, Ms Formby said eliminating anti-Semitism from the party was her ‘mission’.

After setting out ‘significant progress’ made so far, she said: ‘I am proud of the progress that has been made but I’m not complacent.

‘Fundamental change takes time, in particular in a democratic, member-led organisation like the Labour Party, where rule changes must be approved at our annual party conference. However, wide-ranging changes are already in place.

‘There is more work to be done to ensure all cases are dealt with quickly and fairly, and to eliminate the evil of antisemitism from our movement once and for all.

‘I am personally committed to ensuring that Jewish members feel safe and welcome in our party, and in reassuring the Jewish community that we stand with them against oppression and prejudice.

‘That is my mission. That is what I as general secretary, our staff and our whole party must work towards and be committed to achieving together.’ 

It comes after Jim Sheridan, a former Scottish Labour MP, had his party suspension lifted after an investigation into a Facebook post.

He wrote: ‘For all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long-suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.’

Mr Sheridan has since apologised to the Jewish community, and said: ‘My accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership.’ 

When the motion was announced last week, a Labour spokesman said:  ‘Labour is committed to tackling anti-Semitism in all its forms wherever it arises, in our party and wider society.

‘We have significantly sped up and strengthened our procedures for dealing with complaints about anti-Semitism.’

Last night a Labour party source said: ‘Jennie Formby gave a comprehensive update on the significant work that’s been done to strengthen and speed up procedures and addressed the points in the motion. 

‘Complaints processes are confidential and the Party has a responsibility to protect members’ data.’ 

Timeline of anti-Semitic scandals which have erupted under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has been accused of failing to tackle the racism among his supporters 

Jeremy Corbyn (pictured) has been accused of failing to tackle the racism among his supporters 

The anti-Semitism scandal has dogged Labour since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader  in 2015.

Here is a timeline of the controversies: 

April 2016:

Labour MP Naz Shah is suspended for anti-Semitic posts – including one in which she appeared to endorse calls for Israelis to be deported to the US. 

She apologised and was given a formal warning.  

Ken Livingstone goes on the radio to defend Ms Shah – but sparks fresh controversy by claiming that Hitler supported Zionism. 

He is suspended by Labour but refuses to apologise and has repeated the claim many times.

He eventually quits Labour two years later, saying his suspension has become a distraction.

June 2016: 

A two-month inquiry by civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti finds that Labour is not overrun by anti-Semitism. 

But the launch is overshadowed when Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth flees it in tears after being accused by Corbyn supporter Marc Wadsworth of colluding with the press.

Critics accuse the report of being a whitewash and Ms Chakrabarti is widely criticised for accepting a peerage from Jeremy Corbyn shortly afterwards.

October 2016: 

The Home Affairs Select Committee says Labour is guilty of incompetence over its handling of anti-Semitism and of creating a safe space for people with ‘vile attitudes towards Jewish people’.

March 2018: 

It is revealed that Jeremy Corbyn defended an artist who painted an anti-Semitic mural and said the offensive art should be removed.

He apologises saying he did not properly look at the picture before he made the post.

Jewish leaders take the unprecedented step of holding a demonstration outside Parliament protesting Mr Corbyn’s failure to tackle anti-Semitism.

Several Labour MPs address the crowds.

April 2018:

Marc Wadsworth is expelled from Labour after being accused of anti-Semitism. 

Meanwhile, Labour Jewish MPs tell of the anti-Semitic abuse they have suffered in a powerful parliamentary debate – and round on their leader for failing to tackle it. 

July 2018:

The Labour leadership sparks fresh anger by failing to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism

Peter Willsman, a strong ally of Jeremy Corbyn, is secretly taped ranting that Jewish ‘Trump fanatics’ invented the anti-Semitism storm engulfing Labour. 

In an angry diatribe at a meeting of Labour’s ruling executive committee, he said he was ‘amazed’ there was evidence party members hated Jews.

He claimed ‘some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump – they are Trump fanatics’ before shouting: ‘So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up duff information without any evidence at all.’

August 2018:

Jeremy Corbyn issues a video insisting he is committed to tackling the racism – but it is panned by Jewish leaders.

Corbynistas mount a social media campaign to get deputy Labour leader Tom Watson to quit after he criticises the party’s handling of anti-Semitism. 

The Daily Mail exclusively publishes photos of Jeremy Corbyn holding a wreath at a ceremony where a terrorist linked to the Munich massacre was honoured.

The Labour leader insists he was there to honour others killed – but faces fresh calls to quit over the scandal. 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.