Keir Starmer slaps down Len McCluskey over ‘Corbyn-hater’ MP jibe
Labour frontbencher Keir Starmer has hit out at Len McCluskey over his attack on “Corbyn-hater” MPs who have challenged the Labour leadership on anti-Semitism.
The Shadow Brexit Secretary said he disagreed with the Unite chief after Mr McCluskey accused some Labour MPs of using concerns about abuse to take shots at the Labour leader.
In an article for the New Statesman, Mr McCluskey said that a number of MPs were using the issue as part of a “sustained smearing” of Mr Corbyn, branding them part of "a dismal chorus whose every dirge makes winning a Labour government more difficult".
His comments came just a day after the Labour leader held a tense meeting with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council to discuss ways of tackling the problem of anti-Semitism.
But, speaking on the Today programme, Sir Keir said it was “obvious” that Labour had a problem with anti-Semtisim as he took a swipe at Mr McCluskey, saying: “Denying the problem is part of the problem”.
“I disagree with Len McCluskey. Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear, and it is obvious that we’ve got a problem with anti-Semitism and we’ve got to deal with it robustly and effectively.
“Part of that is the disciplinary procedure which needs to be much quicker and much more effective. But there is also a cultural question, and part of that cultural question is to stop those that are denying there is even a problem. That is a part of the problem. So I am afraid I disagree with Len on this.”
He expressed hope that Labour was now "turning a corner" on anti-Semitism, pointing out that Mr Corbyn has asked party chiefs to prioritise a clampdown on abuse.
“I think that we need to look at what Jeremy Corbyn has asked Jennie Formby, the new general secretary, to do," Mr Starmer said. "He has asked her to make it a priority and he is right to do so, and she has made it clear that the denial there’s a problem is part of the problem.
"So I do think that we are, and I hope we are, turning a corner on this - much more effective disciplinary action but also a cultural change that makes it clear that simply denying the problem is part of the problem.”