In his first interview with a Jewish newspaper since his election as Labour leader exactly two years ago, Sir Keir did not apologise for his own role backing Mr Corbyn. Sir Keir also declined to tell the JC whether he believed that Mr Corbyn is antisemitic.
The interview came following numerous expulsions and suspensions of Labour officeholders at the local level.
In Plymouth, Cllr Chaz Singh, the Chair of the Council’s Equalities Working Group, has come under fire for allegedly retweeting a post by a local firm of beekeepers directed at the local ward councillors, which said: “You’re lucky, if you get to see yours! We have three, and they’re as much use as Anne Frank’s drum kit!” The tweet was in reference to a local dispute about sewage. Cllr Singh was criticised by his colleagues for apparently using social media to amplify an offensive analogy to a victim of the Holocaust, and in particular for doing so given his position at the Council and purported status as a champion of diversity.
The complaint by Labour Against Antisemitism, submitted in September 2021, detailed Cllr Islam’s social media activity, where he claims a “witch-hunt” has taken place against Labour politicians critical of Israel, among other inflammatory remarks.
In London, the former Chair of the Hampstead and Kilburn Constituency Labour Party, Pete Firmin, has reportedly been automatically expelled from Labour over alleged support for factions that have been proscribed by the Party.
In Wales, a former leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, has been revealed not to have left Labour after 46 years of his own accord, but rather because he was expelled following disciplinary action. Cllr Hedley McCarthy had reportedly been accused of ‘liking’ antisemitic posts on social media, which he denied, saying that he has “a proven track record of opposing racism of all forms, including antisemitism.”
However, a Labour Party spokesman reportedly said: “Hedley McCarthy was expelled from the Labour Party in January 2022 following the conclusion of an internal disciplinary investigation into antisemitic social media activity. It is therefore incorrect for Hedley McCarthy to claim that he resigned from membership of the Labour Party.”
The local Constituency Labour Party (CLP) reportedly claimed that it had not been aware of the expulsion, relying instead on Cllr McCarthy’s claim that he had left of his own accord. Cllr McCarthy said in response: “I want to apologise to my former colleagues in the Labour group and the CLP for not informing them of the suspension or the eviction letter.” He added that he had been concerned about the confidentiality of the disciplinary process, apparently having been warned that any breach could result in further disciplinary action. “In any case, I left the group in November and didn’t see that the letter was relevant to them by then,” he said, adding: “I am sorry now that I didn’t speak out about these ridiculous accusations.”
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.
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.