Labour is failing to kick racists out of the party, says top MP

Posted On: 
16th July 2019

Labour is failing to deal with racists among its membership, according to the party's most senior backbencher.

John Cryer, left, with former Labour general secretary Iain McNicol.
Credit: 
PA Images

John Cryer, chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, also said the decision to attack former staff who took part in a Panorama programme on anti-semitism had been a "gross misjudgment".

He made his comments as Labour MPs backed calls for the party to introduce an independent system for dealing with accuations of anti-Jewish racism.

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Speaking at the weekly PLP meeting, Mr Cryer said: "The bottom line is we have got racists in our party and they are not being dealt with."

Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer said he "endorsed" Mr Cryer's comments and added: "Throw open the books, open the files - we cannot circle the wagons."

Last week's Panorama accused aides close to Jeremy Corbyn of interfering in anti-semitism cases, and heard from former Labour staff who claimed their mental health had been affected by the controversy.

The party has accused some of those who took part in the programme as being disaffected ex-employees pursuing a political agenda against the Labour leader.

Former Labour whip Siobhan McDonagh, the local MP for one of those who appeared on the programme, told the PLP: "The party of the workers? It makes me sick."

And Louise Ellman MP, who is Jewish, said: "Panorama was a shame and a scourge and the leader's response was disgraceful."

Monday night's meeting came at the end of another day in which Labour splits over anti-semitism were exposed.

Senior peers wrote to Mr Corbyn urging him to do more to tackle the party's "endemic" anti-semitism problem by setting up an independent complaints system.

A separate letter to the leader from 200 current and former staff, plus Labour supporters also accused the party of trying to "smear" those who spoke out against anti-semitism to Panorama.

PoliticsHome also revealed that the GMB union is offering one-to-one legal advice to Labour staff whose mental health has been affected by working for the party.

A Labour spokesperson said: "The Labour party’s comprehensive rebuttal of the Panorama programme did not in any way criticise Jewish members who have suffered anti-semitism.

"As we said after the programme aired, we will fully investigate any complaints alleging anti-semitic incidents reported by party members in interviews in the programme. We stand in solidarity with Jewish people, and we’re taking decisive action to root out antisemitism from our movement and society."