Jeremy Corbyn was accused of “allowing institutional anti-Jewish racism”, as Labour welcomed its newest MP, who has been accused of antisemitism.
Speaking at the first Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting since the EU elections, Jewish MPs Ruth Smeeth and Dame Margaret Hodge attacked the leader for inaction on antisemitism.
This comes as Labour inaugurated Lisa Forbes, the newly-elected MP for Peterborough, who apologised during the fiery PLP meeting for having ‘liked’ an online post which claimed Theresa May had a “Zionist slave masters”.
Claiming she had contacted Jewish community groups upon her election last week in order to make amends, she was defended by Corbyn who reportedly said during the meeting: “I’m absolutely convinced this party must be, is, and will always be, an anti-racist party. That obviously includes antisemitism”.
Dame Margaret Hodge said she could “not tolerate” antisemitism within the party, while Ruth Smeeth claimed Corbyn was “allowing institutional anti-Jewish racism”.
This comes after it was announced that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is investigating the Labour Party over claims it has discriminated against its Jewish members.
On Sunday, senior Labour frontbencher, Barry Gardiner, defended Forbes on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, insisting “she had apologised. She said that this was a careless error.”
He added, in wake of revelations about Tory leadership hopeful Michael Gove having taking Cocaine, that: “I think if he can be forgiven for that, then Lisa Forbes can be forgiven for liking a tweet that she didn’t bother to read.
Upon Lisa Forbes’ election last week, a joint statement was issued by the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and Community Security Trust, criticising the her.
They said: “The Party’s failure to even try to engage with our concerns or to implement the changes for which we have called is an ongoing symptom of the racist mess for which it is now being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.”
The Jewish Labour Movement also immediately called for the party to suspend the whip, which was dismissed by the party.