WATCH: Labour frontbencher says Margaret Hodge right to confront Jeremy Corbyn over anti-Semitism

Posted On: 
22nd July 2018

A senior Labour frontbencher has said Margaret Hodge was right to confront Jeremy Corbyn over the party’s stance on anti-Semitism.

Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey

Rebecca Long Bailey said while nobody in the party should “engage in personal attacks”, it was acceptable for MPs to challenge the leadership's view.

Her boss in the Shadow Treasury team, John McDonnell, meanwhile called for the complaint made against Mrs Hodge to be dropped or investigated quickly.

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The latest row over anti-Jewish racism in the party comes after the National Executive Committee decided not to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition.

The move prompted a huge backlash from backbenchers and senior Jewish figures, including Ms Hodge, who told Mr Corbyn he was an “anti-Semite and a racist”.

The party has since begun an internal disciplinary probe into the Barking MP’s conduct during the fiery clash.

While Ms Long-Bailey would not be drawn on whether Ms Hodge should face action, she defended her right to "express her opinion".

“I wasn’t there when the so-called incident happened so I can’t comment on what was said, but what we do say in the party is that we treat colleagues with respect," she told the Andrew Marr Show.

"But that’s not to say that it’s wrong for Margaret, if she did state those things to Jeremy, to express her opinion, it’s right to express opinions to the leader of the party.

She added: “I’m not sure where we’re up to in terms of what action is being taken, I just know that the matter’s being investigated, but as I say, within the party we’re expected to treat colleagues with respect and not to engage in personal attacks.

"But as I said it’s not wrong for a colleague to express concerns to another colleague, it just has to be done in the appropriate way.”

Mr McDonnell told Sky News' Ridge on Sunday: “My view is let’s just resolve this very, very quickly – almost drop the complaint and move on – or if someone wants the complaint investigated, let’s get that done quickly.

“I’ve worked with Margaret over the years, I was the chief executive of an organisation that she was chair of for over ten years. She’s got a good heart. Sometimes you can express anger – I’m one of those people who have in the past.

“You have to accept that, you have to accept sometimes it can be quite heated in their expressions. Let’s understand that and let’s just move on.”

Elsewhere Ms Long-Bailey said Labour was right to consult further on its rules around the definition of anti-Semitism amid the backlash, although she defended its initial changes.

“The intention was never to omit part of the IHRA definition. The IHRA define in examples is two-sided piece of A4, it’s not very detailed, but it’s very clear and straight to the point and what we wanted to do was to build on that but we recognise the concerns.

“That’s why this week it was right for the NEC to look at the code again and look at consulting with the Jewish community to make sure that we get it right because we have to restore faith in the Jewish community.

“We started from a very, very dark place due to the actions of a minority in our party and the failure of us to deal with it quickly.”

Watch Ms Long-Bailey on the Andrew Marr Show this morning: