Co-Operative party leader: Antisemitic comments ‘will be challenged’
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Labour antisemitismGareth Thomas MP speaks out

Co-Operative party leader: Antisemitic comments ‘will be challenged’

Labour's sister party leader touches on the issue of Jew-hatred during speech to annual conference

Gareth Thomas MP
Gareth Thomas MP

The leader of Labour’s sister party insisted there is “no place for antisemitism”, during his speech to its annual conference over the weekend.

Co-Operative Party leader Gareth Thomas MP, offered “solidarity and support” to the community while speaking in Bristol.

The party, which has a pact with Labour to allow election candidates to stand under both movements, has 37 MPs, including Jewish parliamentarians Louise Ellman, Luciana Berger and Alex Sobel. It promotes a cooperative model of society.

Speaking in Bristol, the Co-Op party leader, Harrow West MP Gareth Thomas. told touched upon “a terrible series of accusations about the scale of antisemitism” in politics during his speech to the conference.

Stressing that there is “no place for antisemitism” in the party, he said: “If you make antisemitic comments you will be challenged, if you continue to behave in ways that bring the Party into disrepute you will be confronted and if needs be you will be expelled

“To the Jewish community in our country and particularly in our movement we offer solidarity and support. We have taken action already and we will do so again if necessary.”

This comes amid the row over antisemitism in the Labour party, including abuse directed at Labour Co-Operative MPs such as Luciana Berger.

In April of this year, the Liverpool Wavertree MP gave a deeply personal account of the almost endless anti-Semitic abuse she has suffered since her student days, during a discussion on antisemitism in the Commons.

“I was 19 when I received my first piece of hate mail,” Ms Berger said. “It described me as a dirty, Zionist pig.” Four people have so far been convicted since 2013 for the anti-Semitic abuse directed at her as an MP, three of whom have been imprisoned: in the wake of one of those convictions, she said, an American far-right website had launched a hashtag, “Filthy Jewbitch campaign”.

Ms Berger said she made no apology for holding her own party to a higher standard. “My party urgently needs to address this issue publicly and consistently”, she said. “Denial and prevarication are not options”.

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