Len McCluskey: Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents used antisemitism accusations to undermine him
There is “no doubt” that opponents of Jeremy Corbyn used the anti-semitism row to undermine him, Len McCluskey has declared.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the Unite general secretary hit out at what he called "despicable” critics of the Labour leader who had used the row over anti-Jewish abuse in the party's ranks to damage Mr Corbyn.
He said: “I’m absolutely convinced that there were those individuals who opposed Jeremy Corbyn’s election right from the beginning used the anti-semitism issue to undermine him - there is no doubt about that.”
And the Unite chief added: “Lots of people were genuinely concerned, I have no problem with that. But there were others who were disingenuous.”
Mr McCluskey, whose union has thrown its weight behind Rebecca Long-Bailey in the race to succeed Mr Corbyn as Labour leader, acknowleged that the party had "never handled the anti-semitism issue correctly".
Labour is currently being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission over its approach to dealing with complaints of anti-Jewish abuse.
Mr McCluskey's comments have already attracted criticism from some Labour MPs.
Ilford North’s Wes Streeting said: "I’m absolutely convinced that those who dismissed antisemitism concerns as “mood music” and sought to downplay, dismiss and delegitimatise concerns are part of the problem - not those of us who’ve consistently challenged antisemitism.”
Meanwhile Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell tweeted: “All those railing against the raising of concerns about #antisemitism should instead be putting all their efforts into making sure the #antisemitism that the Labour Party is now being investigated for by the EHRC is comprehensively dealt with. It is a shameful disgrace. End of.”
But Mr McCluskey has refused to apologise for his response to the row over the past few years.
He told Andrew Marr: “Apology for what? I’m on record as apologising if any member of the Jewish community was hurt by what happened in the Labour party.
“I’m also on record as saying every single anti-Semite in the Labour party needs to be kicked out.”
This is not the first time the Unite boss has criticised those who have blamed Mr Corbyn for the issue of anti-semitism in the party - in 2018 he accused Jewish leaders of “intransigent hostility” towards the Labour leader.