EXCL Shadow Cabinet member says eradicting Labour anti-Semitism must be Jennie Formby's 'top priority'

Posted On: 
19th April 2018

Labour's new general secretary must make eradicating anti-Semitism from Labour her "number one priority", a leading member of the Shadow Cabinet has declared.

Andrew Gwynne is the Shadow Communities Secretary.
Credit: 
PA Images

Andrew Gwynne said "there is no place in the Labour party" for any discrimination against Jews.

His comments came amid the ongoing anti-Semitism row which once again came to the fore in the Commons this week.

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Several Labour MPs revealed the extent of the abuse they have received from members of their own party for speaking out on the issue.

Speaking to The House magazine, Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne said Jennie Formby, who took up the post of Labour general secretary earlier this month, must prove to the Jewish community that the party is taking the problem seriously.

He said: "I think it is an issue we have got to grasp and we’ve got to grasp firmly. There is no place in the Labour party or indeed in modern politics for any form of intolerance based on religion or racial background.

"I want to see the new general secretary take this task as the number one priority and root it out of the Labour party. There is absolutely no place for it in the Labour party.

"The challenge for the Labour party going forward is to rebuild trust with the Jewish community. Many of those people share progressive values and share the aims and objectives of the Labour party.

"If they don’t feel that they have a home in the Labour party, I think it is something we need to address pretty rapidly.

"It’s not going to be easy but the way we do it is by showing there is zero tolerance for anti-Semitism."

BOYCOTT MOVEMENT

Mr Gwynne also dismissed suggestions by his frontbench colleague, Kate Osamor, last week that a Labour government could support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which targets Israeli products as a protest against the treatment of Palestinians.

She said: "I think we need to get to a place where we start educating everybody and make a decision based on that and then say, ‘this could be an alternative, this could be an option’."

But Mr Gwynne said: "I’ve had a long-held view on this, that boycotts are incredibly unhelpful.

"What we’ve got to do in the wider sphere of the Israel and Palestinian conflict is re-engage international efforts at getting meaningful dialogue between the Israeli government and Palestinian representatives to get that two-state solution."

THANGAM 'A VALUED MP'

The shadow minister also hit out at Labour members who have criticised MPs for attending a recent anti-Semitism demonstration outside Parliament which was organised by leading Jewish groups.

Bristol West MP Thangam Debbonaire even faced a vote by Labour members in her constituency who were angry at her for taking part in the event.

But Mr Gwynne, the MP for Denton and Reddish, said: "Some constituency parties view things through the prism of the leadership elections that we’ve had and concerns that MPs are perhaps not loyal to Jeremy.

"What I say to party members in Bristol West is Thangam is a member of Jeremy’s frontbench, she is a valuable member of parliament and she is right to tackle anti-Semitism and stand against prejudice wherever it exposes itself.

"People should view MPs’ attendance at the rally in the intention that they were there for, which was to send a very loud voice to the Jewish community that the Labour party is a home for them as well.

"Now is the crunch time to make a clear stand against anti-Semitism. There is no place for it in the Labour party. End of."