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Mon, 26 October 2020

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Three Labour peers quit party whip in protest at handling of anti-semitism complaints

Three Labour peers quit party whip in protest at handling of anti-semitism complaints
2 min read

Three Labour peers have resigned the party whip in protest at the way it has handled accusations of anti-semitism against members.

In a co-ordinated move, Lords Triesman, Darzi and Turnberg all announced their decisions within an hour of one another on Tuesday afternoon.

It came as Labour officials brace themselves for a Panorama investigation into the party's anti-semitism problems, which is due to be broadcast on Wednesday evening.

Lord Triesman - a former Labour general secretary - said: "My sad conclusion is that the party is very plainly institutionally anti-semitic, and its leader and his circle are anti-semitic, having never once made the right judgement call about an issue reflecting deep prejudice."

He added: "It is no longer a safe political environment for Jewish people or other opponents of anti-semitism."

Confirming he will now sit as an independent peer, Lord Darzi said: "As an Armenian survivor of the Armenian genocide I have zero tolerance to anti-semitism, Islamophobia or any other discrimination against religion or race. This decision has not been lightly taken."

Lord Turnberg said: "It is not just the policies on foreign affairs ... but the overt anti-semitism that permeates the party machine that is no longer possible for me to tolerate. I fear for the future of this party to which I have devoted myself for so many years."

But a Labour party spokesperson accused the trio of making "false and offensive claims".

"The Labour party at all levels is implacably opposed to anti-semitism and is determined to root out this social cancer from our movement and society," the spokesperson said.

"Labour is taking decisive action against anti-semitism, doubling the number of staff dedicated to dealing with complaints and cases. And since Jennie Formby became general secretary, the rate at which anti-semitism cases have been dealt with has increased four-fold. 

"Our records show that anti-semitism cases that have gone through the stages of our disciplinary procedures since September 2015 account for about 0.06% of the party’s membership.

"This represents a tiny minority, but one antisemite is one too many, and we will continue to act against this repugnant form of racism."

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