No place in party for anti-Semitism

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with MP Ronnie Campbell during his visit to Blyth. Picture by Jane Coltman
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with MP Ronnie Campbell during his visit to Blyth. Picture by Jane Coltman

Recently I took some flak for writing that there isn’t an anti-Semitic bone in Jeremy Corbyn’s body.

That was proven at the Labour leader’s meeting with the Jewish Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council.

Jeremy was clear that anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in the Labour Party and that he does not support the view that allegations of anti-Semitism are smears against the leadership.

People who hold anti-Semitic views have no place in the Labour Party. He made it very clear that attacks on MPs are unacceptable and not done in his name.

He and the board agreed a flexible timetable to deal with anti-Semitism cases and agreed that no MP should share a platform with someone expelled or suspended for anti-Semitism.

Jeremy also agrees with the working definition of anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as a hated towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The Labour Party adopted this definition in 2016.

There are 90 outstanding complaints of anti-Semitism. So far, 18 have been referred to the National Constitutional Committee, the body that has the power to expel members.

Let’s put this in perspective – the complaints are regarding around 0.02 per cent of Labour’s membership of around 500,000. The General Counsel that will shortly be appointed will have responsibility for ensuring that all complaints of anti-Semitism will be dealt with swiftly, fairly and transparently.

All that is fair and right, but I have to admit that some damage has been done. Claims that anti-Semitism wasn’t being taken seriously enough have been toxic, undermining my party’s proud tradition of standing for equal rights and anti-racism.