Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s former leader who was recently suspended from the Party, has issued a statement “clarifying” his inflammatory remarks about the report into Labour antisemitism by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). However, he has not addressed his own long history of antisemitism, which was recorded in a complaint made by Campaign Against Antisemitism shortly before he was suspended.
Mr Corbyn was suspended two weeks ago after Campaign Against Antisemitism submitted a detailed disciplinary complaint against him and other sitting MPs, and just hours after the publication of the EHRC’s report after he appeared to downplay the extent of antisemitism in the Party. At the time, he said: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.” This was not the first time that Mr Corbyn (or his allies) had tried to undermine confidence in the EHRC’s report.
Now, Mr Corbyn has issued a new statement, in which he said: “We must never tolerate antisemitism or belittle concerns about it. And that was not my intention in anything I said this week. I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it. To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’. The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism. I fully support Keir Starmer’s decision to accept all the EHRC recommendations in full and, in accordance with my own lifelong convictions, will do what I can to help the Party move on, united against antisemitism which has been responsible for so many of history’s greatest crimes against humanity.”
He went on to thank “the many thousands of Labour party members, trade unionists, and supporters in Britain and around the world, who have offered their solidarity.” Campaign Against Antisemitism has been monitoring the solidarity that Mr Corbyn has received, and there are reports now of optimism on Labour’s far-left that Mr Corbyn will be reinstated.
However, in his statement, Mr Corbyn only referred to his remarks about the EHRC, which represented only one of some eighteen incidents of antisemitic discourse in which Mr Corbyn has been involved. The Labour Party must undertake a full investigation of all of these incidents before Mr Corbyn’s suspension can possibly be lifted.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Mr Corbyn’s statement today seeks to recast his comments gaslighting the Jewish community when the EHRC’s report into Labour antisemitism was released. This is a desperate attempt to have his suspension lifted and reveals that he still believes that suspensions are something that happen on the whim of the Leader as it did during his tenure, and not as a result of any due process. If the Labour Party wants to build on the positive step of suspending Mr Corbyn, it must investigate the entirety of our complaint against him under the independent disciplinary process that the EHRC has mandated, and do so within six months. Reinstating Mr Corbyn now would only show that Labour is not serious about tackling antisemitism, or is incapable of doing so.”
The Labour Party was found by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.