Jeremy Corbyn, pictured leaving his London home yesterday, has been under intense pressure over anti-Semitism in Labour
Jeremy Corbyn today conceded he ‘must do better’ in tackling anti-Semitism as he desperately fights to quell the crisis engulfing Labour.
The Labour leader issued his strongest admission yet that he has failed to recognise the scale of the problems on the hard-left.
‘It is easy to denounce antisemitism when you see it in other countries, in other political movements. It is sometimes harder to see it when it is closer to home,’ he said.
But the admission, in a message marking Passover, will not satisfy critics as Labour continues to be plagued by examples of outrageous remarks by activists.
Mr Corbyn has been accused by respected scientist Lord Winston of ‘encouraging and endorsing’ anti-Semites.
Meanwhile, dozens of MPs and peers are demanding the suspension of Labour’s former disputes chief who defended a Holocaust denier.
Some 39 Labour politicians have signed an open letter insisting Christine Shawcroft must be suspended from the National Executive Committee (NEC).
Ms Shawcroft was forced to stand down as chair of the disputes panel this week after admitting she was ‘wrong and misguided’ to have sent an email calling for a council candidate in Peterborough to have his suspension lifted.
But she still holds a seat on the party’s ruling body.
In his Passover video message today, Mr Corbyn – who has spent much of the week avoiding questions from journalists – said he wanted to ‘remember all our Jewish brothers and sisters, who have battled against discrimination and faced the most horrific acts of violence and mass murder’.
He referred to ‘rising levels of anti-Semitism around the world’, pointing the finger at right-wingers in Poland and France.
But admitting that problems were harder to see ‘closer to home’, he added: “We in the labour movement will never be complacent about antisemitism.
“We all need to do better. I am committed to ensuring the Labour Party is a welcoming and secure place for Jewish people.’
The controversy that hit Ms Shacroft centred on Alan Bull, who was suspended from the party last week after he was accused of being responsible for anti-Semitic posts on social media.
Ms Shawcroft said: ‘I sent this email before being aware of the full information about this case and I had not been shown the image of his abhorrent Facebook post. Had I seen this image, I would not have requested that the decision to suspend him be re-considered. I am deeply sorry for having done so.’
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell later said it was right that Ms Shawcroft had quit the post, but said she did not need to also resign from the NEC.
Asked if she should step down from the ruling body, he told Sky News: ‘Well, no. Jeremy has asked her to stand down as the chair of the disputes committee.’
He added: ‘She’s not at the head of that committee (the NEC). It is an elected position and it is up to the electorate to decide whether or not she should be elected again.’
However, the letter, signed by MPs including Siobhan McDonagh, Mike Gapes and LucianaBerger, said it was ‘highly offensive to the Jewish community’ that Ms Shawcroft remained a member of the NEC.
Mr Gapes said on Twitter: ‘Time for action. Not just words.’
In an effort to draw a line under the raging controversy this week, Mr Corbyn acknowledged the problem was not just a matter of a ‘few bad apples’.
But Labour peer Lord Winston said last night that Mr Corbyn had ‘encouraged and endorsed’ anti-Semites.
The scientist said hostility to Jews has ‘infected the Labour Party so it’s become endemic’.
Christine Shawcroft (pictued) was forced to stand down as chair of the disputes panel this week after admitting she was ‘wrong and misguided’ to have sent an email calling for a council candidate in Peterborough to have his suspension lifted
Lucian Berger (pictured) is among 39 Labour politicians who have signed an open letter calling for Christine Shawcroft to be suspended from the National Executive Committee (NEC)
The activist, Alan Bull, a Labour candidate for Peterborough Council, was suspended for posting a link on Facebook to a fake news article titled: ‘International Red Cross Report Confirms the Holocaust of Six Million Jews is a Hoax’
Lord Winston, who is Jewish, told BBC One’s This Week: ‘I feel deeply ashamed of my party. Whether he likes it or not, Jeremy Corbyn has a lot to answer for. He has encouraged anti-Semites and he’s endorsed them.
‘In the modern world using social media, their conspiracy theories about Jews and statements about hate, spread like a disease and this virus is infecting the Labour Party.’
The academic said he believes Mr Corbyn is a ‘good man’ who is not personally anti-Semitic but warned he was ‘very worried about the quality of the leadership’ because the firm action needed to tackle the problem had not materialised.
He claimed the Labour leader ‘doesn’t seem to understand that his attitude actually decreases the chance of peace and raises the risk of violence’.
Lord Winston warned that if Mr Corbyn stands by while Labour ‘descends a disastrous path’ he could make the party ‘unelectable’.
Asked if Mr Corbyn was fit to be Prime Minister if he fails to tackle the problem, the peer replied: ‘I fear that he’s not unfortunately and it troubles me to say that on air.’
Another Labour peer last night accused Mr Corbyn of failing to act on an anti-Semitic email he received.
Lord Levy said that the party’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith of Basildon, showed Mr Corbyn the abusive message on Wednesday night, but he heard nothing back on the issue.
The email received by Lord Levy read: ‘I see that you dare to criticise Labour leader. Who the hell are you to comment on Jeremy Corbyn?
‘You are just another Jewish pig, bloodsucker living on taxpayers’ money. What are you doing in this country anyway?
Labour peer Lord Winston told BBC’s This Week last night (pictured) that Mr Corbyn had ‘encouraged and endorsed’ anti-Semites
‘Why don’t you piss off to Israel? We don’t need Jewish bastards like you in this country.’
Lord Levy told BBC2’s Newsnight that he did not know if the email was from a supporter of Mr Corbyn, adding: ‘But, I know that Jeremy was shown this email last night.’
The peer questioned why Mr Corbyn had not condemned the email and accused Mr Corbyn of not taking anti-Semitism seriously enough.
‘There has to be a zero tolerance policy. Enough words. They are just not taking this seriously. I have never received such a disgusting email,’ he said.
A Labour source said: ‘Jeremy was shown some text on someone’s phone for a matter of seconds when he was on his way to vote.
‘Of course, if something so serious had been raised with Jeremy in more than a passing way for a few seconds he would have been able to engage with it, and would, of course, have acted.’
Lord Levy said he had reported the email to the police.