Top Labour peer condemns Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘abject failure’ to tackle anti-semitism

Posted On: 
20th June 2019

A senior Labour peer has launched a withering attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s “abject failure” to tackle anti-Jewish racism in the party.

Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for his party's handling of anti-semitism cases
Credit: 
PA

Toby Harris, chair of the Labour Peers’ Group, said the party leader had failed to respond to a letter he sent three months ago demanding action.

He also accused Mr Corbyn of allowing his “acolytes” to smear those who speak out rather than face up to the problem.

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Speaking in a House of Lords debate, he said: “The Labour Party’s abject failure to deal with anti-semitism effectively over the last three years cannot be ascribed to inadequate resourcing of the complaints and compliance function in Labour party head office; nor can it be blamed on inadequate or out-dated processes – the failure is a political one; it is a failure of leadership.

“Those of your lordships who have been responsible for major organisations know that the tone, style and ethos of those organisations is set at the top – that is what leadership means

“Leadership is not about hiding behind procedure; it is not about blaming more junior officials; and it is not about allowing your acolytes to dismiss legitimate complaints as being the spite of those who disagree with your political approach.”

Lord Harris said it was “profoundly shocking” that the Equality and Human Rights Commission had launched an investigation into how Labour handles anti-semitism in the party.

He said: “This is nothing short of humiliating for those of us on these benches – is causing dismay amongst party members outside this House and is deeply alienating for those whom we might hope would vote for us - whether they are from the Jewish community or not

“It undermines the Labour party’s whole ethos - the values of equality, decency and solidarity that brought so many of us on these benches into the Labour party in the first place

“Over three months ago, I wrote, as chair of the Labour Peers’ Group, to Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the party.  That letter expressed our dismay – no, worse than that, our alarm - at the continuing failure to remove anti-semites from our party

“I have not had the courtesy of a reply.”

Lord Harris also highlighted the case of Pete Willsman, a member of Labour’s national executive committee, who was suspended by the party for accusing Israel of “whipping up” the Labour anti-semitism row.

That came just months after he was given a warning for claiming rabbis who complained about anti-semitism in Labour were “Trump supporters” whose motivation was to undermine Mr Corbyn.