John Mann MP: 'We shame ourselves' - Corbyn must tackle antisemitic discourse now
Shadow ministers should stop ‘casting aspersions at Jews’ and focus on rebuilding Labour’s reputation, says Labour MP John Mann.
It is shameful that the Labour Party, and our leader, finds itself the subject of a protest from the mainstream Jewish community. They have outlined their concerns and we need to listen. In dismissing, minimising and levelling allegations of bad faith against the Jewish community, we shame ourselves and fall short of adhering to the Chakrabarti report which our party agreed.
Rather than casting aspersions at Jews, perhaps the focus for shadow ministers and others should be on what we can do to begin to repair our relationships and our reputation.
I’ve repeatedly sought to share my thoughts on this with Jeremy. As yet they haven’t been actioned and we can and must do better. The Jewish community has outlined some sensible, tangible measures already and the following are just two that I support.
First, I agree that the party must get a handle on its disciplinary process. If we are to build confidence we have to boot out the antisemites in our midst. We need to know how many reports the party has received, how many it believes it has dealt with and how many have been adjudicated. The process has been so badly mishandled to now that I don’t believe this can reasonably be addressed within the party framework.
I support the Jewish community in its recommendation that the Labour party and the community jointly select an independent body to perform an audit of the disciplinary process and that an accompanying process be established so that older complaints, thought to have been mislaid or ignored can be sent through. This would require an annual report for the next three years to ensure progress, outcomes and any new system the party is to then re-integrate was robust and reliable.
Second, Jewish community figures are right that Jeremy needs to heed the explicit concerns about antisemitic discourse set out in their public letter and draft new rules to meet them. This includes immediate expulsion for those using Zionist or Zionism as a pejorative term, those indulging in antisemitic conspiracy theories, making comparisons to Nazis and the other specific forms of abuse the Jewish community has evidenced as antisemitic.
These are two, simple matters, easily arranged with some decisive action from Jeremy. The more fundamental issue is how we educate our membership. As I have said, the response from people on social media to Jewish communal concerns has been shocking. From Shadow Ministers to ex-MPs, musicians to ordinary labour party members, accusations of bad faith, of political manipulation and of weaponisation, the scale of denial is worrying in the extreme. The only weaponisation we need is of education for our membership about modern antisemitism.
If the Labour party is to survive, we need to change. Education and proper engagement on Jewish communal concerns are key but action needs to come from the top and it needs to come now.
John Mann is Labour MP for Bassetlaw