Jeremy Corbyn suspended from Labour over comments on anti-Semitism report


Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour Party over his comments responding to a report on anti-Semitism in the party under his leadership.

In a statement, the party said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.

“He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

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It follows a statement the former leader released, responding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report, in which he rejected some of the criticisms it made.

Mr Corbyn, who has been an MP for Islington North since 1983, said he did not accept some aspects of the EHRC report, which found the party, under his leadership was “responsible for unlawful acts” of anti-Semitic discrimination and harassment.

Mr Corbyn said the scale of the problem in Labour was “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party”.

He added Jewish Labour members were right to expect the party to deal with anti-Semitism “and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should”, but he stopped short of apologising.

The statement went on: ” My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”

The backbench MP said “processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose” when he became leader in 2015 and fixing the problem was “stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy”.

But he claimed that from 2018 “substantial improvements” were made, “making it much easier and swifter to remove anti-Semites”.

“My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process,” he added.

The 16-month investigation into Labour regarding anti-Semitism under his leadership also said the party broke equality laws.

The 130-page report said it found “significant failings in the way the Labour Party has handled anti-Semitism complaints over the last four years”.

Mr Corbyn’s comments prompted current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – who has committed to a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitic discrimination in the party – to take decisive action against his predecessor.

It was put to Mr Corbyn that current leader Keir Starmer said anyone saying the report was exaggerated was “part of the problem”.

He responded: “I’m not part of the problem. The problem is anti-semitism historically and anti-semitism in the presence and the fear that many people have.”

Asked if he would resign from the party following the report, he said “of course not, I am proud to be a member of the Labour Party”.

Labour MP Harriet Harman said Mr Corbyn’s suspension is “the right thing to do”. “This is the right thing to do,” Ms Harman tweeted.

“If you say that AS exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it & are, as Keir Starmer says, part of the problem.”

New leader Sir Keir Starmer, since taking over from Mr Corbyn, has committed to a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitic discrimination in the party.
Sir Keir Starmer, since taking over from Mr Corbyn, has committed to a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitic discrimination in the party.Credit: PA

The Jewish Labour Movement said blame for the “sordid, disgraceful chapter” in the party’s history “lies firmly with those who held positions of leadership”.

Pointing blame at Mr Corbyn, the report said: “It is hard not to conclude that antisemitism within the Labour Party could have been tackled more effectively if the leadership had chosen to do so.”

In an interview recorded before he was suspended, Mr Corbyn said he was “sorry” to the Jewish community for anti-Semitism within the Labour Party while he was leader, but says he did not fail in his aim of tackling it.

Responding to the report, he said: “I don’t accept that we were harassing people or discriminating against people. What I do recognise is that there was an insufficiency of process in the party.

“He said he is “sorry that hurt was caused to anybody”, but when asked if he had failed to tackle anti-Semitism in the party, he said: “I don’t believe I did fail.

“I believe I brought in the rules that were necessary and those are the ones that are now in operation which means that the process is much more rapidly dealt with.”

The report, which was launched in May 2019, was commissioned to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism in the party and how it responded to complaints.

It said there were “serious failings” in the way complaints were handled until at least 2018.

“Specific examples of harassment, discrimination and political interference” were found, but the report also noted “a lack of leadership within the Labour Party on these issues”, which it said was “hard to reconcile with its stated commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism”.

Source: itv


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