A Labour peer has threatened to resign from Labour if Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as anger grew over the award of a peerage to the head of the the party’s anti-Semitism inquiry.
News that Shami Chakrabarti was the party’s only nominee for the House of Lords as part of David Cameron’s resignation honours provoked widespread anger – with the Board of Deputies branding it the ‘whitewash for peerages’ scandal. A report by Chakrabarti, the former head of Liberty, concluded in June that Labour was not “overrun by anti-semitism” and was criticised for failing to go far enough on contemporary anti-Semitism.
Lord Parry Mitchell, who was ennobled in 2000, wrote in the Times that he found allegations of anti-Semitism in the party “distressing” as a Jew. “I had hoped that the Chakrabarti report would get to the bottom of allegations of anti-Semitism; sadly Ms Chakrabarti produced an insepid whitewash,” he claimed. “Indeed she seems to have done her master’s bidding to absolve the party of blame. Her prize? The only Labour peerage awarded by Corbyn.”
While he owes the party “a great deal”, he added: “I have come to the painful conclusion that were Mr Corbyn to be re-elected, then I will have to resign my membership. I cannot remain a member of a party that goes against such a crucial issue that I hold dear.”
Chakrabarti, the Corbyn, who wants to see the Lords reformed, had previously pledged not to nominate anyone. Amid criticism of the timing of the award, Corbyn’s office refuted any suggestion that the peerage was discussed before the report’s publication.
But the chief rabbi said the “credibility of the report lies in tatters”. He said: “Shami Chakrabarti has a proud record of public service, but in accepting this peerage, the credibility of her report lies in tatters and the Labour Party’s stated intention, to unequivocally tackle Antisemitism, remains woefully unrealised.”
Marie van der Zyl, Vice President of the Board of Deputies, said: “It is beyond disappointing that Shami Chakrabarti has been offered, and accepted, a peerage from Labour following her so-called ‘independent’ inquiry. The report, which was weak in several areas, now seems to have been rewarded with an honour.
“This ‘whitewash for peerages’ is a scandal that surely raises serious questions about the integrity of Ms Chakrabarti, her inquiry and the Labour leadership.”
The Community Security Trust tweeted: “Shami Chakrabarti peerage is shameless kick in the teeth for all who put hope in her now wholly compromised Inquiry into Labour antisemitism.”
Labour Friends of Israel director Jennifer Gerber said the nomination “clearly undermines the independence of her inquiry and raises further questions about the seriousness of his commitment to ridding the Lab Party of the scourge of anti-Semitism”.
A spokesperson for Corbyn said: “Shami Chakrabarti shares Jeremy’s ambition for reform of the House of Lords.
“Her career has been one of public service and human rights advocacy. Her legal and campaigning skills, and the trust that she has gained from many ordinary Britons, will be a considerable asset to the House of Lords.”
They added: “Shami wasn’t told she would be nominated for a peerage before the publication of her inquiry, and both her nomination and subsequent appointment to the House of Lords was made after the report was published.”
In launching her inquiry, Chakrabarti admitted to having joined Labour – something she had been unable to do whilst working cross party in her previous role – but insisted the
Saying she is “honoured” to accept the opportunity to hold the government to account, she said: “This is a dangerous moment for our country and we share vital human rights values that need defending more than ever before in my lifetime.”
But Labour MP Wes Streeting said that, while she would bring great experience to the chamber, “let’s not pretend a peerage under these circumstances doesn’t stink”.