Jeremy Corbyn started the campaign trail with a rocky first day
Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis burst into the open on day one of Jeremy Corbyn’s election battle yesterday – as the party’s Jewish affiliate refused to campaign for him to be Prime Minister.
For the first time in its 100-year-history, the Jewish Labour Movement effectively went on strike, saying it would no longer send out activists to support candidates across the country.
In a damning statement, the movement said Jeremy Corbyn had allowed a ‘culture of anti-Semitism to emerge and fester’.
It came as a rabbi took the unprecedented step of writing to his congregation, warning a Corbyn-led government would ‘pose a danger to Jewish life as we know it’.
Dr Jonathan Romain urged those who attend his Maidenhead synagogue to vote for whatever political party stands the best chance of beating Labour candidates.
Labour is being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over whether it is guilty of institutional anti-Semitism.
Earlier this year the JLM’s parliamentary chairman Luciana Berger left the Labour Party, citing anti-Semitic bullying. She was followed last month by honorary president Dame Louise Ellman.
Last year, Luciana Berger was given police protection at the party’s conference in Liverpool after she said she was the target of anti-Semitic bullying
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meets residents on the General Election campaign trail in Milton Keynes today
The movement is one of the oldest socialist societies affiliated to Labour, and at an election it would be expected to send out activists.
This time it said it will only support ‘exceptional candidates’ such as its parliamentary chair Ruth Smeeth, and other MPs it views as having been supportive. In a statement, the JLM said: ‘We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour-held seats.’
The move could prove crucial as Labour seeks to overturn Tory minister Theresa Villiers’ slim majority in Chipping Barnet. It could also encourage other Labour supporters to turn to the Lib Dems, now represented by Mrs Berger in Finchley and Golders Green.
But the organisation will provide assistance to Ruth Smeeth in Stoke-on-Trent North and to Dame Margaret Hodge in Barking, East London, as they campaign to retain their seats.
The group, which has 2,500 members, said: ‘When two accomplished and dedicated Jewish Labour MPs no longer see a place for themselves in the Labour Party, it’s clear the party has lost its way.
‘This crisis of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party stems from a failure of leadership from Jeremy Corbyn. When the answer has been to take swift, decisive action, the reality has been equivocation and token gestures.’
Separately, Rabbi Romain wrote in his letter to 823 families across 16 different constituencies: ‘Corbyn-led Labour has, at best, let anti-Semitism arise within its ranks, or at worst, has encouraged it.
She looked a little puzzled by the gesture, but Jeremy Corbyn clearly felt the need to show Emily Thornberry his appreciation yesterday – with an awkward kiss on the shadow foreign secretary’s knuckles
Labour is being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over whether it is guilty of institutional anti-Semitism
‘This has never happened under any previous Labour leader.’
It is rare for rabbis to involve themselves so closely in party politics.
He added: ‘If you too think that a Corbyn-led government would pose a danger to Jewish life as we know it, whether it be utterances that cause Jews to feel victimised, less secure and no longer at ease, or maybe even legislation that restricts Jewish life or relations with Israel in some way, then you may wish to vote to ensure Labour does not gain your local seat.’
Corbyn takes a selfie with local candidates Charlynne Pullen and Hannah O’Neil
A Labour Party spokesman said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has made clear that anti-Semitism has no place in the party, has brought forward reforms to fast-track expulsions, and launched an education programme to deepen understanding of anti-Semitism within our movement.’
Last year, Mrs Berger was given police protection at the party’s conference in Liverpool.
She quit as a Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree in February. She helped set up the ill-fated Change UK before joining the Lib Dems.
At the same time Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley North who was brought up by Holocaust survivors, quit the party to stand as an independent candidate.
Dame Margaret had to fight off a deselection battle earlier this year.
Labour MP John Mann also quit to take up an anti-Semitism position created by Theresa May. He now sits in the House of Lords.
BBC vindicated over Panorama expose of anti-Semitism in party
Jeremy Corbyn’s party was facing fresh anti-Semitism turmoil last night as the BBC slapped down a complaint it made about a Panorama exposé.
The party lost its high-stakes battle with the BBC ‘on every single point’, it is understood.
The explosive Panorama programme ‘Is Labour Anti-Semitic?’, broadcast in July, featured a parade of whistleblowers who lifted the lid on the crisis gripping Mr Corbyn’s party.
Labour reacted with a scathing attack on the BBC documentary and its presenter John Ware. But now an investigation at the corporation has vindicated Mr Ware and the whistleblowers with a ‘withering’ rejection of the complaint.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party was facing fresh anti-Semitism turmoil last night as the BBC slapped down a complaint it made about a Panorama exposé
Labour reacted with a scathing attack on the BBC documentary and its presenter John Ware
It is understood Mr Ware and the whistleblowers are now privately gearing up to sue Labour for smearing their credibility.
The BBC1 documentary featured former party workers speaking on camera to denounce Labour’s treatment of Jewish people.
The party has faced repeated claims it is ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’, despite Mr Corbyn pledging a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude to racism. The whistleblowers alleged that senior figures, including Mr Corbyn’s communications chief Seumas Milne and general secretary Jennie Formby, had personally interfered in disciplinary investigations.
After watching the programme, Mr Corbyn claimed it contained ‘many, many inaccuracies’, and Labour denounced the whistleblowers as ‘disaffected former officials’ with an axe to grind. Labour sent the BBC a letter branding Mr Ware an ‘unsuitable’ host and accusing him of ‘malicious representations designed to mislead the public’.
But now Labour’s complaint has been thrown out. A source said: ‘Labour have been informed that their formal complaint over the Panorama documentary on anti-Semitism has failed on every single point.
The whistleblowers alleged that senior figures, including Mr Corbyn’s communications chief Seumas Milne (pictured) and general secretary Jennie Formby, had personally interfered in disciplinary investigations
‘It was felt that John Ware had gone out of his way to put every allegation made in the show to Labour well ahead of the programme being aired.
‘It fact, it emerged that Labour themselves sat on the allegations for some time, before launching an extraordinary attack on John’s credibility as a journalist.’
Another source said: ‘The BBC’s verdict on Labour’s complaint is withering.’
Many of the whistleblowers have also given their evidence to an investigation being carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission into whether Labour is institutionally anti-Semitic.
Mr Ware’s lawyers are believed to have served papers on the Labour Party claiming defamation for suggesting his journalism was dishonest.
The whistleblowers are also pursuing legal action. Last night the BBC and Labour both declined to comment.
He’s utterly useless says Nicola, despite poll offer
Nicola Sturgeon described Jeremy Corbyn as ‘completely and utterly useless’
Nicola Sturgeon described Jeremy Corbyn as ‘completely and utterly useless’ – just hours after he indicated he would support a second Scottish independence referendum.
Speaking to members of the Scottish Parliament yesterday, she used the same words to describe Boris Johnson.
But the attack on the Labour leader is surprising as it comes a day after he said he would not block a breakaway vote if it came later on in his first term of office.
It emerged yesterday that Miss Sturgeon held private talks with Mr Corbyn just days after telling him not to ‘pick up the phone’ unless he would back another independence poll.
Miss Sturgeon said that UK Labour’s position on an independence referendum was a lot more democratic than the position of the same party in Scotland. She said of UK Labour: ‘They oppose independence, they don’t want another referendum, but they recognise it is down to the people of Scotland to decide that question, that is a basic issue of democracy.’
But she went on to say: ‘I think the leaders of both UK parties are completely and utterly useless, and I don’t think they have got Scotland’s interests at heart.
‘That is one of the many reasons I think Scotland needs to be independent, so we can be a country at the top of the table in Europe, so we can invest Scotland’s wealth in our public services, in lifting children out of poverty, that is why I think Scotland should be independent.
‘I am looking forward immensely to this election. On December 12 people in Scotland have that choice to vote SNP to stop Brexit and to give the people of Scotland the right to choose a better, brighter future as an independent country.’
It’s not about me… vote for the party, he squirms
Jeremy Corbyn was yesterday reduced to pleading with the electorate to vote for his party even if they do not like him.
Launching Labour’s election campaign at an arts centre in south London, Mr Corbyn was confronted over opinion polls that show he is the most unpopular Opposition leader since records began in 1977. The Ipsos MORI survey shows just 15 per cent are satisfied with his performance, compared to 75 per cent who are dissatisfied – a net satisfaction rating of -60.
The 70-year-old was asked about these ratings – and whether he would quit if Labour lost the election.
He replied: ‘It’s not about me. It’s not about any individual on this platform. It’s not a presidential election.
Jeremy Corbyn was yesterday reduced to pleading with the electorate to vote for his party even if they do not like him
‘It’s about each and every one of us standing as Labour candidates – the Labour Shadow Cabinet or any other position – with all the diversity that we’ve got and all the different life experiences we bring to this country and to our party and to our Parliament.
‘So I’m very happy to go out there on this election campaign.’
Later, Mr Corbyn was asked to confirm he would serve a full five-year term if he win’s next month’s election – but he did not answer. He merely said: ‘If you’re concerned about me and how I’m going to carry on – well I’ll tell you this, I love doing this job, I love meeting people, I love campaigning and above all I’ll be so proud to lead a Labour government.’
The Labour leader’s refusal to answer questions about whether he would quit contrasts sharply with his close ally John McDonnell.
Last month, the Shadow Chancellor said he ‘can’t see’ either himself or Mr Corbyn staying in their jobs if Labour fails to win the election.