Emily Thornberry has Launched a blistering attack on those on the left who use the Palestinian cause as a “cloak” for their hatred of Jews – insisting they must be driven out.
Delivering a keynote speech to Labour’s annual conference, the shadow foreign secretary insisted she would not hold back from criticising the “racist” policies of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
But in a barnstorming speech which will be seen as an effort to reach out to the Jewish community, she said: “I know as well – and we must all acknowledge – that there are sickening individuals on the fringes of our movement, who use our legitimate support for Palestine as a cloak and a cover for their despicable hatred of Jewish people, and their desire to see Israel destroyed.”
And the huge applause that greeted much of the speech reached a crescendo as she insisted such people must be driven out of the party like the movement drove out Oswald Mosley.
Thornberry said: “Let me speak to you from the depths of my heart and my soul and say something I never thought I’d have to say in my lifetime as a Labour member and activist, and it is simply this: that if we want to root out fascism and racism and hatred from our world, and from our country, then we must start, we must start, with rooting it out of our own party.”
She insisted it was members of the Labour movement that stood with the Jewish community at Cable Street and forced Mosley out of Liverpool without allowing him to say a word.
She said: “We won all those battles! We beat the Blackshirts, and the NF, and the BNP, and the EDL, and whatever they call themselves today. It hasn’t been thousands of Tories assembling in the streets to fight the forces of fascism. It’s been the men and women in this room. It’s been Jeremy’s parents. It’s been Jon Lansman and Len McCluskey, Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.”
Standing metres from the Labour leader, she said: “We don’t need a new anti-Nazi league. The anti-Nazi league is in this room and on this stage.”
But Only by “uniting our own party, and ending the pointless conflicts which divide our movement, which poison our online debate, and which distract us” from opposing the government can Labour achieve its vision, she claimed. “If we can’t show the strength to change ourselves to change the way we behave to each other, how can we ever hope to change the country, and aspire to change the world”.