Anti-Semitism row ‘stirred up’ to attack Corbyn, says disputes chief who resigned

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Anti-Semitism row ‘stirred up’ to attack Corbyn, says disputes chief who resigned

Christine Shawcroft made her remarks in the same week she was forced to quit her role handling complaints about anti-Semitism

Christine Shawcroft
Christine Shawcroft

The row over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is being “stirred up” to attack Jeremy Corbyn, the senior official forced to quit over her role in handling complaints has claimed.

Christine Shawcroft stood down as disputes panel chairwoman after opposing the suspension of a council candidate accused of Holocaust denial.

Some 39 MPs and peers have since signed an open letter calling for Ms Shawcroft to be suspended from the National Executive Committee (NEC).

In a statement posted on Facebook, Ms Shawcroft said she was “not a Holocaust denier and I would not support a Holocaust denier”.

“I have been trying to support members who have been affected by all the shenanigans around Council selections, and thought this case was just another one of those,” she added.

“I had not seen the appalling and abhorrent post which was shared, and if I had seen it I would not have sent the supportive email.”

Ms Shawcroft said it was “entirely right” that she had quit her role chairing the disputes panel.

She added: “This whole row is being stirred up to attack Jeremy, as we all know. That someone who has spent his whole life fighting racism in all its forms should find himself being accused of not doing enough to counter it, absolutely beggars belief.”

Christine Shawcroft’s Facebook post, which has since been removed

Shawcroft was criticised for her remark by Karen Pollock, CEO the Holocaust Educational Trust. She said on Twitter, it was “beggars belief”, adding “that instead of asking serious questions as to why a member of your party thinks it’s ok to post sickening material denying the Holocaust,you suggest the huge concern re antisemitism is ‘stirred up’ & enough is being done to combat it. Disgusting”

Mr Corbyn has said he hopes Passover will mark a move towards closer relations with the Jewish community and insisted he is an “ally” in the fight against anti-Semitism.

But a Jewish Labour peer said the party leader had “encouraged and endorsed” anti-Semites.

Lord Winston said hostility to Jews has “infected the Labour Party so it’s become endemic”.

Former prime minister Tony Blair said it has become an issue in the party because the leadership and its supporters do not really think it is a problem.

He told BBC Radio 4’s The Week In Westminster: “It’s become a problem because I’m afraid the people around Jeremy Corbyn – maybe even he himself – I don’t think they really think it is a problem.

“I think they think it’s basically something that’s got up by people who are opposed to him for all sorts of other reasons and are using anti-Semitism as the battering ram against his leadership.

“When this row first began – a couple of years ago it’s really been going on now – I confess to you because I know the history of the Labour Party, I was sceptical about it.

“But the more I talk to Labour MPs and I talk to Labour members and Labour councillors, the more I realise, I’m afraid, it’s real.

“It should have been dealt with before.”

Mr Blair said it was “very painful” and he had “literally never had this discussion in the Labour Party before” it erupted in recent years.

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, lead signatory of the letter calling for Ms Shawcroft to be removed from the National Executive Committee, told the BBC the group felt “very strongly” about the issue.

The missive, also signed by MPs including Mike Gapes and Luciana Berger, said it was “highly offensive to the Jewish community” that Ms Shawcroft remained a member of the NEC.

In a later Facebook post, Ms Shawcroft issued a new statement removing the comments about the row being stirred up.

She said she was “deeply sorry” for the way she had handled the complaint about the local council candidate and knew “how much hurt it has caused”.

Ms Shawcroft said she had already announced she would not seek re-election to the NEC so will be leaving in the summer.

Help perform the greatest mitzvah: save a life

While life in Israel has returned to normal and hopes are high that Britain is set for a summer without restrictions thanks to vaccines, for billions around the world there is no such imminent light at the end of the tunnel. In the majority of countries around the globe, particularly the poorest, the vaccine rollout has barely kicked off.

That's why Jewish News, the leading source of news and opinion for the entire UK community, is throwing its full weight behind UNICEF’s VaccinAid campaign by using this platform usually reserved for encouraging donations towards our own journalism to instead urge our readers around the globe to perform the greatest mitzvah: saving a life.

We have never before done this for any charity fundraiser but it's hard to recall a campaign that affects so many people, and indeed an entire planet aching for a return to normality. Just like the Chief Rabbi and Rachel Riley, we hope to boost the mission to deliver two billion vaccines, 165 million treatments and 900 million test kits around the world by the end of this year.

Please donate as much as you can, in the spirit of the Talmudic sages: “to save one life is to save the world entire”

read more: