Sadiq Khan says Labour still seen as 'unwilling' to tackle anti-Semitism

Posted On: 
24th February 2019

Too many Jewish people still see Labour as being "unwilling" to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks, Sadiq Khan has warned.

Sadiq Khan vowed to meet with Jewish Labour members in a bid to persuade them to stay
Credit: 
PA Images

In a stark warning to Jeremy Corbyn on the week nine of his MPs quit, the London Mayor said it was “depressing” that many Jewish Labour members were considering quitting the party over its response to anti-Jewish abuse.

Writing in the Observer, Mr Khan said: “It is devastating that so many Jewish people now feel that Labour - a party that should be their natural home - does not have their best interests at heart, and worse, seems to them to be unwilling to tackle the scourge of anti-Semitism within."

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He added: “It’s so depressing that more Jewish parliamentarians, members and organisations with a long affiliation with Labour are now saying they are considering leaving. We must not let this happen. The Labour Party must make whatever changes are necessary to make Jewish people feel at home in our party again."

Last week, nine MPs left the Labour party in opposition to Mr Corbyn’s leadership, citing his stance on Brexit as well as blasting his efforts to root out anti-Semitism from the Labour ranks. Eight of those MPs have joined the new Independent Group, alongside former Conservative MPs Anna Soubry, Heidi Allen and Sarah Wollaston.

Former minister Ian Austin also quit the party on Friday to sit as an independent MP, saying he was “ashamed” of the party under Mr Corbyn’s leadership, and “appalled” by the offence it had caused to Jews.

Mr Khan warned that the risk of Jewish members splitting from the party was now so severe that the Jewish Labour Movement, a longstanding affiliate of the party, may never reach its 100-year anniversary.

"Over the coming days and weeks, I will continue to meet with the Jewish Labour Movement and representatives of the wider community, to reassure them that – like many other decent people within our party – I’ll fight on their behalf to keep Labour their political home," he said.

"Everyone in our party must do the same."

THORNBERRY: WE'LL CRUSH INDEPENDENT GROUP

Speaking at a rally in Broxtowe on Saturday, Mr Corbyn vowed that the party would oppose racism "in any way whatsoever".

He said: "If anyone is racist towards anyone else in our party - wrong. Out of court, out of order, totally and absolutely unacceptable.

"Anti-Semitism is unacceptable in any form and in any way whatsoever, and anywhere in our society."

But he said: "Walking away from our movement achieves nothing. Not understanding where we have come from is a bad mistake."

And Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry told the same rally that those MPs who had left Labour had "betrayed" their seats.

She added: "It was our manifesto and our leader that gave them the huge majorities that they now have in their seats - those seats they have betrayed by their actions...

"If our new independent splitters have got the guts to have by-elections, we will crush them."

'NARROW AND FACTIONAL'

But Ms Thornberry's comments came as former frontbencher Pat McFadden said the party's response to the defections risked making it look “narrow and factional”.

Speaking to the Labour First group in the West Midlands on Saturday, the ex-shadow business minister said: “The nine MPs who left Labour this week are good colleagues who have contributed a huge amount to Labour over the years… Their departure should not be greeted by anyone with factional cheering or with disdain.

“Responding in that manner simply justifies the decision to leave and paints a picture of a party that looks narrow and factional.”