Labour MP John Mann has thrown down the gauntlet to his party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, offering to host him at a meeting to talk about anti-Semitism — “and not ‘other forms of racism’ — which I will chair.”
Mr Mann was the keynote guest at the conclusion of the first Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) conference on Sunday. In conversation with the Progress chair Richard Angell, Mr Mann, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Semitism and of the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism , spoke frankly about his clashes with former London mayor Ken Livingstone and his perceptions of Mr Corbyn.
He said: “He [Jeremy Corbyn] has not been strong enough in dealing with anti-Semitism . But I will speak to him and invite him to address a forum about anti-Semitism , which I will chair. And I will make public his response”.
In his view, Mr Mann said: “Nothing destroys Corbyn’s soul more than that he could be seen to be tolerating anti-Semitism . It disturbs him. It is haunting him, precisely because he prides himself on being anti-racist”.
Mr Mann, MP for Bassetlaw since 2001, told the packed audience that JLM’s potential was”more than every far Left group put together. You just need to organise yourselves”. Known for his combative stance, the MP advised JLM activists to attend the upcoming Labour conference in Brighton with placards giving details of anti-Semitic abuse on social media. “That will send a hugely powerful message to the leadership”, he said.
Speaking about Ken Livingstone, Mr Mann was candid: “The man is odious, his attitude is odious. This is not an accident, he wants to do what he is doing, it occupies his mind and soul.” And he accused the Labour MP Chris Williamson, condemnation of whose comments on anti-Semitism permeated the JLM conference, of quoting Livingstone when he [Williamson] claimed that he had not witnessed anti-Semitism in 41 years in the party. “That’s just what Livingstone says, that he has never seen it. And it is absurd.”
But Mr Mann ended with a strong warning: “If we end up in this country with the Jewish community tying itself to the Conservatives, that is bad news for the community — and for the country.”