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Fri, 27 November 2020

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Keir Starmer Has Apologised To The Jewish Community Following A Damning Anti-Semitism Report On A "Day Of Shame" For Labour

Keir Starmer Has Apologised To The Jewish Community Following A Damning Anti-Semitism Report On A 'Day Of Shame' For Labour

Keir Starmer has apologised to the Jewish community following the publication of the EHRC report

3 min read

Sir Keir Starmer has apologised for the "pain and grief" caused to the Jewish community following the publication of a damning report into anti-semitism.

It comes after the Equality and Human Rights Commission concluded Labour had broken the law over the handling of anti-semitism in the party, including serious failings by the leadership in tackling anti-Jewish hatred in previous years and an inadequate process for dealing with complaints.

Speaking on Thursday morning, before his predecessor was suspended, Sir Keir said the party would accept the EHRC recommendations "without qualification" and had already instructed Labour staff to begin work with the body on establishing an independent complaints process.

"The report's conclusions are clear and stark - they leave no room for equivocation," he said.

"Most telling of all a clear breakdown of trust between the Labour Party, many of its members and the Jewish community. It is a day of shame for the Labour Party, we have failed Jewish people.

"On behalf of the Labour Party, I am truly sorry for the pain and grief that has been caused."

The Labour leader also insisted he would adopt a "zero-tolerance" approach to anti-semitism, saying those who claimed the issue had been "exaggerated" or was a "factional attack" should be "nowhere near" the party.

His comments came after former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said efforts to tackle anti-semitism "took longer to deliver..than it should", but rejected some of the conclusions of the inquiry, claiming the problem had been "dramatically overstated for political reasons" by his opponents and the media, and that the "combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated".

Questioned over what action he would take specifically against his predecessor, Sir Keir said the report did not "make individual findings about Jeremy Corbyn" but admitted its "strong findings about leadership".

Mr Corbyn was suspended from the party pending a full investigation less than two hours later.

“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party," a spokesperson said.

At a Jewish Labour Movement press conference Dame Margaret Hodge, its parliamentary chair, described Mr Corbyn as "yesterday's man" and "absolutely irrelevant".

"The statement that Jeremy chose to put out today demonstrates that he is in permanment denail about the extent of the problem that emerged during his leadership," she added.

"Even when the evidence is placed in front of him, he fails to understand the importance and severity of it.  It happened on his watch, he shamed the Labour Party, he sat at the centre of a party that enabled anti-semitism to spread from the fringes to the mainstream."

Meanwhile, Jennie Formby, who served as the party's General Secretary from 2018 until 2020 said reforms brought in under Mr Corbyn transformed "unfit" processes which allowed for a "more rapid, robust" system for handling complaints.

"Under Jeremy Corbyn's initiative, we brought reforms to conference which were passed by Labour members and affiliates that enabled rapid expulsions," she said in a statement.

"Mistakes were made along the way, and of course I wish we could have made the reforms more quickly, although some of them required rule changes which are necessarily slow.

"But the record shows that as a result of the changes we made, Labour's previously unfit processes were transformed, becoming more rapid, robust and more independent than any other political party.

"I am confident that (Sir Keir Starmer), (Labour general secretary David Evans) and the (National Executive Committee) will continue to improve upon those reforms and that they will carefully consider and implement the EHRC's recommendations.

"I hope that this continued work can rebuild relations with the Jewish community and mend the hurt and pain that has been caused."

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