Labour councillor accuses Jeremy Corbyn of 'lying' over party's attempts to tackle anti-semitism

Posted On: 
20th November 2019

A senior Labour councillor has accused Jeremy Corbyn of lying live on television about Labour's attempts to tackle anti-semitism in the party.

Jewish groups protest against Labour anti-semitism last year.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader told the TV leaders' debate that the party had "investigated every single case" of anti-Jewish racism raised by complainers.

But Peter Mason, a councillor in Ealing, said that was untrue, with more than 100 cases still to be investigated and that figure representing "just the tip of the iceberg".

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Mr Corbyn's comments came in response to a question about the anti-semitism crisis which has dogged the Labour party in recent years and led to an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Defending his party's approach, he said: "Anti-semitism is an absolute evil and scourge within our society. Racism in any form is a scourge in our society. 

"I have taken action in my party. When anyone has committed any anti-semitic acts or made any anti-semitic statements they are either suspended or expelled from the party and we have investigated every single case.

"We do take this very, very seriously indeed because I do not want to live in a society where racism is rife.

"I understand and recognise the desperate history of the Jewish people in the 20th century which came about from an unrestriction of anti-semitism in the 1920s - we've got to stand up against racism in any form in our society."

But in a highly unusual move, Mr Mason took to Twitter to accuse Mr Corbyn of misleading the public.

He said: "This is a lie. There are at least 130 outstanding anti-semitism cases, some dating back years, that still haven’t been dealt with. The party haven’t bothered to investigate the cases properly or make decisions. This is the tip of the iceberg.

"Corbyn and Labour’s total failure to deal with antisemites has seen it be investigated by the EHRC for institutional anti-Jewish racism. They don’t launch major investigations without cause, and the investigation continues through the election."

Mr Mason said the Jewish Labour Movement - one of the party's oldest affiliates - had submitted a dossier of cases to the EHRC on Tuesday based on the sworn testimony of more than 70 Labour activists, officers, staff and politicians.

He said: "Each of them desperately worried about the turn the party has taken to foster and embed a rancid and abusive, victim blaming culture, one which is then denied, obfuscated and diminished by the leadership, and who want to put the situation right."

The councillor went on: "We have submitted details to the EHRC of thousands of cases left unresolved. Cases where grossly anti-semitic behaviour was excused, and details of the worst political manipulation of a system by those running the party.

"And all for what? How has this festering anti-Jewish racism, the inaction, the lies & the cover ups, ever helped the party in any way? This is a disgraceful episode in the long and proud history of the Labour Party. He should be ashamed of himself."

The EHRC is expected to publish its findings in the New Year.

Neil Coyle, who is standing for Labour in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, told PoliticsHome: "To claim all cases of anti-semitism 'had been investigated' is simply untrue. It'll add more evidence to the EHRC inquiry.

"The failure to address the problem has cost the party two Jewish MPs, members and supporters already but judging by his comments it still appears a blind spot to Jeremy Corbyn sadly.

"It's not good enough. I know candidates are feeding back some of the difficult discussions we're having about his problem. He has failed to tackle anti-semitism anywhere near adequately enough.

"An independent process seems the best way forward, allowing us to quickly exclude any racists."