The Jewish Labour Movement has said the suspended former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was “yesterday’s man” and “irrelevant” as it sought to look to the future.
The comments from senior JLM personnel, notably MP Dame Margaret Hodge, were made at a press conference held shortly after a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found Labour guilty of discrimination and harassment against Jews.
Less than an hour later, the party said it had suspended Corbyn over his Facebook post earlier in the day, in which he said Labour’s antisemitism crisis had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”.
Asked about it, Hodge said: “The statement Jeremy chose to put out today demonstrates that he is in permanent denial about the extent of the problem that emerged during his leadership. Even when the evidence is placed in front of him, he fails to understand the importance and severity of it.
- READ MORE – Live blog: Equalities watchdog’s damning verdict on Labour antisemitism: GUILTY AS CHARGED
“It happened on his watch. He shamed the Labour Party. He sat at the centre of a party that enabled antisemitism to spread from the fringes to the mainstream. But he is yesterday’s man. He is absolutely irrelevant. What we’re looking to – thank goodness – is the present and the future.”
Pressed, Hodge said “it doesn’t matter” whether Corbyn was kicked out, citing similar recent comments from union leader Len McCluskey and Corbyn’s former chief of staff Karie Murphy, before adding: “There is an entrenched cultural challenge.
Looking to the future, JLM said it wanted to see “bold and decisive steps to radically change the culture” in the party, including “a fully independent disciplinary process, preventing casual bullying, intimidation and harassment, and implementing a proper education plan for party members”.
In a warning of what was to follow, JLM chair Peter Mason said: “This includes immediate action in relation to those who… are seeking to diminish the EHRC conclusions.
“Suggesting that complaints of antisemitism are fakes or smears is, as the EHRC points, an act of antisemitism itself. Dealing with such suggestions will be the first test of the leadership of Labour Party’s genuine recognition of the report’s finding.”
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