Tony Blair: No place for anti-Semitism 'poison' in Labour
Tony Blair has weighed into Labour's anti-Semitism row, arguing there is "no place" for such racism in the party.
The former prime minister insisted the party was dead against “that type of prejudice and that sort of poison”.
His comments come as Labour announced 18 members had been suspended over anti-Semitism since Jeremy Corbyn became leader.
Mr Blair praised Mr Corbyn’s decision to set out an inquiry, headed by Shami Chakrabarti, into the extent of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism in the Labour party.
Speaking to Bloomberg News, the former Labour leader said: “I know I speak for the overwhelming majority of Labour Party members when I say there’s absolutely no place for anti-Semitism in our party.
“On the contrary, we have always been strong and powerful campaigners against that type of prejudice and that sort of poison.
“It’s been a difficult time but we’ll have this inquiry take its course and I’m sure it will come out with some very strong conclusions.”
It was reported at the weekend that the party had secretly suspended 50 of its members for anti-Semitic or racist slurs since Mr Corbyn took over as leader.
Five councillors have already been suspended this week and many other members have faced the same action in recent weeks - including Bradford West MP Naz Shah and former London mayor Ken Livingstone.
But today, Labour’s spokesman said only 18 members have been suspended since September.
The spokesman said: "He's taken more action more quickly than any other Labour party leader or other party leader.
"Nothing remotely compares to the speed and scope of action that Jeremy Corbyn has taken since he became leader of the Labour party."
Writing in the Daily Telegraph today, Britain's chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis warned Labour not to dismiss the party's "severe" problem.
“In recent days we have heard anti-Semitism in the Labour party described variously as ‘a smear’ and as ‘mood music’ being manipulated by political opponents of Jeremy Corbyn," he said.
"There has been nothing more disheartening in this story than the suggestion that this is more about politics than about substance.
“The worst of mistakes, in trying to address this problem, would be to treat it as a political attack which requires a political solution.”