A Jewish caller to the radio channel LBC accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of spending five years standing by Jeremy Corbyn and campaigning to make him Prime Minister, noting that it is “convenient” for Sir Keir to be “saying the right things now, that’s not principled…that’s empty words.”
Sir Keir did not try to defend his support for Mr Corbyn but instead noted that “within hours of becoming leader” he “reached out to Jewish leaders” and met them within his first few days in office, had a “frank discussion” and explained his intentions, and that “they have given me enough trust to do what I’ve got to do. I’m well aware of the scale of the task. I will be judged on my actions.” He added: “all I ask is that they and you give me the space to show what I will do and I will kick antisemites out of the Labour Party.’’
Asked by host Nick Ferrari whether he trusted the independence of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Sir Keir said that he did, and noted that he even campaigned to establish the body in the first place. Recently, other Labour MPs, including Mr Corbyn, have questioned the independence of the EHRC, which is investigating antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Speaking to another Jewish caller, Sir Keir said: “We must root out antisemitism in the Labour Party and I’m absolutely determined to do that.” He added that “one of the first things I did as Labour leader was to make a full apology.”
In the context of anti-black racism, Sir Keir called for “training for everyone in criminal justice”. Campaign Against Antisemitism welcomes the provision of anti-racism training and has also long called for specific antisemitism training for law enforcement, particularly for the Crown Prosecution Service after its repeated failures to prosecute antisemitic criminals.
The interview was streamed on YouTube, where users made antisemitic and offensive comments in real time such as “what a kosher farce”; “can you criticise Israel”; “which would he put first: Jewish interests or British interests?”; “the truth is antisemetic”; “not George Soros,” alluding to the Jewish financier, philanthropist and political activist who is often at the centre of antisemitic conspriacy theories; “Jewish interests are not British interest”; “0.5% of the population gets most of the attention again. How odd”; and “another antisemitism question LBC set this up.”
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.