Labour MPs today tore into Jeremy Corbyn for failing to tackle the anti-Semitism crisis as they demanded he finally ‘drain the swamp’ of racists.
Luciana Berger, a Jewish Labour MP who is being escorted by police officers at her party conference after receiving a wave of abuse, said the party must finally root out the racism.
She was joined by half a dozen other Labour MPs who railed against the march of anti-Semitism and warned that ‘enough is enough’ and Mr Corbyn must take action.
They spoke out hours after the Labour leader appeared on TV where he refused to say sorry as he was confronted with a litany of examples of alleged anti-Semitism.
In a highly charged fringe meeting in Liverpool today, a string of Labour MPs and Jewish leaders stood up to denounce the party leadership for allowing the racism to fester.
Ms Berger told the packed crowd that Jews are experiencing a growing wave of attacks and abuse – and warned ‘there are Jews in this country who do not feel safe’.
Luciana Berger (pictured today at Labour Party conference in Liverpool today where she was accompanied by police protection) said that Jeremy Corbyn must finally ‘drain the swamp’ of racists in his party
Luciana Berger (pictured at the fringe event in Liverpool today) warned that there are many Jews in Britain today who do not feel safe because of the anti-Semitism crisis
Mr Corbyn was also pressed on his intervention in a decision to remove a mural (pictured) depicting a group of ‘hook-nosed’ men around a Monopoly board, from a wall in east London
She said: ‘This year, more than ever, we have experienced attacks from the left – from people who claim they share our values, who wear the same rosette as us.’
She added: ‘What maters now is draining the swamp. We need to see the Labour Party step up the investigations into complaints of anti-Semitism and get a faster, fairer, more transparent system of internal party justice.
‘The party’s new general secretary said this is her top priority and it would be dealt with by July. We are now in September and there is still that backlog.’
She also took a swipe at the ‘utterly shameful’ bid by Mr Corbyn to water down the definition of anti-Semitism used by the party to discipline its members.
Labour MP Stella Creasy told the Jewish Labour Movement event that the racism must be confronted and urgently rooted out.
She said: ‘Nazism doesn’t turn up fully formed wearing black shiny boots and black shirts and goosestepping.
Corbyn says he will back EU referendum if activists want one
Labour plunged into fresh chaos over Brexit today as Jeremy Corbyn said he is ready to endorse another referendum – but a union crony warned that staying the EU should not be an option in any vote.
The leader said his preference is to have a general election, but he would ‘obviously’ comply if party activists demand one.
The concession came as MPs joined anti-Brexit protests at the gathering in Liverpool, and deputy leader Tom Watson urged a debate on the issue on the conference floor.
But Unite chief Len McCluskey, a key supporter of Mr Corbyn, waded in to the row by insisting even if there is another national vote it should merely be between any package the government negotiates and no deal.
He said the public had already settled the fundamental question of whether Britain should leave the bloc in 2016.
The manoeuvring lays bare the depth of divisions within Labour over how to handle Brexit – and whether it should happen at all.
‘It appears every single day, slowly but surely as the debate is turned. It builds up bit by bit, it gains little by little, it paints itself as the victim – punching up.
‘It paints its victims as its enemies, as traitors, as the other – dual loyalties. It rejects those norms and conventions on anti-Semitism that we have worked so hard to defend.’
Labour MP Ian Austin told the rally: ‘Let’s have no more of this offensive nonsense that people like me are only complaining about these issues to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, that it has been weaponised to undermine him.’
He added: ‘The truth about Jeremy is that he is much angrier with the people complaining about anti-Semitism than he is with the people responsible for it.’
Mr Corbyn has got to ‘stop thinking he is the victim in all of this and he has got to properly explain and apologise for his role and responsibility in the development of this crisis’, the Dudley MP said.
Labour MP Wes Streeting told the rally: ‘We know that anti-Semites in the Labour Party are small in number … the really troubling thing about anti-Semitism in our party is the bystanders who chose to look the other way and continue to do so now.
‘And, worse still, the people who through their words and their actions actively create the conditions in which anti-Semitism can be allowed to fester: Yes, Len McCluskey, I’m talking about you describing anti-Semitism as mood music.
‘And yes, Mark Serwotka, I’m telling you as a general secretary with Jewish members that your remarks the other week at the TUC Congress have no place in the Labour Party and no place in the labour movement.’
And Rosie Duffield, a Labour MP who was threatened with a motion of censure after joining a rally against anti-Semitism in Parliament Square earlier this year, suggested those behind anti-Semitic abuse should be sent on an education trip to Auschwitz.
They unleashed their fury hours after Mr Corbyn appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in which he was confronted by a series of allegations of anti-Semitism.
In the bruising interview as Labour conference kicked off in Liverpool, Marr challenged Mr Corbyn on how he had failed to ‘notice’ that a mural he defended was an anti-Semitic trope.
He was also braced on his jibe about some ‘British Zionists’ not understanding ‘English irony’, and his attendance at a ceremony in Tunisia honouring terrorists linked to the Munich massacre.
But pressed to apologise to the Jewish community, Mr Corbyn merely insisted that he was ‘anti-racist’ and said Labour was ‘welcoming’ to all communities.
In a bruising interview as Labour conference kicked off in Liverpool, the BBC’s Andrew Marr challenged Mr Corbyn (pictured) over anti-Semitism in the party
Mr Corbyn said he had been ‘hurt’ that veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge and former chief Rabbi Lord Sacks had branded him personally an anti-Semite.
Invited by Marr to look down the lens of the camera and personally apologise to the Jewish community for the anti-Semitism crisis, Mr Corbyn replied: ‘I’ll simply say this – I am an anti-racist and will die an anti-racist.
‘Anti-Semitism is a scourge in any society and I will oppose it all my life and I will continue to oppose it all my life.’
He insisted that under his leadership rules against anti-Semitism have been toughened up.
He added: ‘The party must be and is a safe and welcoming place for all communities.’
Mr Corbyn was confronted by a video uncovered by MailOnline when he said some British Zionists had ‘no sense of English irony’.
He defended himself, saying that he was simply defending the Palestinian ambassador Manuel Hassassian against ‘very, very abusive’ protesters at the meeting.
He said: ‘I was upset on his behalf…about the way he had been treated. I felt I should say something in his support.’
Asked if he accepted that it was anti-Semitic, Mr Corbyn said: ‘Well, it was not intended to be anti-Semitic in any way, and I have no intention – and am opposed in every way to anti-Semitism because I can see where it leads to.
‘I can see where it leads to now, in Poland, in Hungary, in central Europe, I can see where it led to in the past.
‘We have to oppose racism in every form, and I do.’
Mr Corbyn was also pressed on his intervention in a decision to remove a mural, which depicts a group of ‘hook-nosed’ men around a Monopoly board, from a wall in east London.
When the artist complained on Facebook that it was being painted over, Mr Corbyn replied: ‘Why?’, before going on to condemn previous destruction of controversial political art.
Jewish groups condemned the image, saying it contained ‘vile anti-Semitic tropes’ such as the idea that Jewish people controlled the world.
Mr Corbyn smiled for the cameras as he arrived for the first day of the Labour conference in Liverpool today
Mr Corbyn said he had been ‘hurt’ that veteran Labour MP Margaret Hodge and former chief Rabbi Lord Sacks had branded him personally an anti-Semite
Anti-Brexit protesters gathered in Liverpool today to demand a ‘People’s Vote’ on any package the government manages to negotiate
Mr Corbyn said today: ‘I was worried about the idea of murals being taken down and my thoughts were about that…the mural was taken down and I was perhaps too hasty in my judgement on that. It has been taken down and I am glad it has.’
Marr responded: ‘I would have thought it would take about one second to look at that and say that that is an anti-Semitic trope there.’
But as he pointed out that the mural was packed full of standard anti-Semitic symbols, the Labour leader said: ‘It also has other symbols in it as well doesn’t it? Like the Freemasons.’
He added: ‘I was concerned about the idea of takin down public murals, I am pleased to say it was taken down.’
Asked directly if he now thinks it is anti-Semitic, Mr Corbyn said: ‘I think it should not have been put up.’
In one particularly uncomfortable exchange, Marr said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn, are you an anti-Semite?’
Mr Corbyn replied: ‘No. Absolutely not. I have spent my whole life opposing racism in any form and I will die fighting racism in any form.’
But Marr said: ‘It is extraordinary I even had to ask that question.’
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
The anti-Semitism scandal has dogged Labour since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015.
Here is a timeline of the controversies:
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.’
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.