Jeremy Corbyn will be readmitted to Labour just weeks after he was suspended for saying the scale of antisemitism in the party was “dramatically overstated”.
A source close to the former opposition leader said Mr Corbyn would be readmitted though has not yet been formally told, following a meeting of the disputes panel of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee.
Following news of his re-admitting to the party, Jewish groups were quick to condemn the action, with a joint statement issued by communal leaders saying “Labour’s mountain to climb to win back the trust of our community just got higher. Campaign Against Antisemitism said the “Jewish community has been conned”, while the Jewish Labour Movement accused the party of having “expedited this case for hearing by a factionally aligned political committee”.
Mr Corbyn had the whip withdrawn and was suspended from the party over his response to a damning Equality and Human Rights Commission which found that the party had broken the law in its handling of antisemitism complaints.
He had claimed that while “one antisemite is one too many” the “scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media”.
His suspension came after his successor as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said that people who believed it was “exaggerated, or a factional attack” were “part of the problem” and “should be nowhere near the Labour Party either”.
But Mr Corbyn acknowledged ahead of a meeting of the disputes committee on Tuesday that concerns around antisemitism in Labour were not “exaggerated”.
He revealed he had given a statement to the party in an attempt to “clear up any confusion” over his initial response and a broadcast interview given in the wake of the report.
- Starmer: Corbyn’s readmission to Labour ‘another painful day for the community’
- OPINION: Oh, it’s fine, we asked some Jews and they said it was okay
- ANALYSIS: Is ‘antisemitism’ no longer fit for purpose?
In a statement aimed at clarifying his comments, Mr Corbyn had said: “We must never tolerate antisemitism or belittle concerns about it. And that was not my intention in anything I said this week.
“I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it.
“To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’.
“The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism.”
Jewish community leaders rejected his clarification, with the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ branding it a “pathetic non-apology.”
Following the decision on Tuesday evening, a spokesperson for the Jewish Labour Movement said it was “extraordinary that just weeks after the EHRC found that the Labour Party had discriminated against Jewish members through political manipulation of the disciplinary process, it appears that the Party expedited this case for hearing by a factionally aligned political committee.”
The Jewish Labour Movement’s statement on Jeremy Corbyn’s readmission to the Labour Party pic.twitter.com/eMMjJgKoJm
— Jewish Labour Movement (@JewishLabour) November 17, 2020
Calling Jeremy Corbyn’s statement “insincere and wholly inadequate”, and having “offered no apology.. or contrition”, JLM say “today’s decision will only embolden those who agreed with him.”
“Once again we find ourselves having to remind the Labour Party that Jeremy Corbyn is not the victim of Labour antisemitism – Jewish members are.”
In a joint statement issued by Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl, Jewish Leadership Chair Jonathan Goldstein and Community Security Trust Chief Executive Mark Gardner, the communal leaders condemned the decision as a “retrograde step for the Party in its relations with the Jewish community.”
“Jeremy Corbyn’s dismissive approach to the damning EHRC’s findings rightly saw him suspended. For Jeremy Corbyn’s allies on the NEC to expedite his case whilst hundreds of other cases languished under his tenure, and his confected non-apology earlier today adds insult to injury.
“This politicisation of the process goes against what the EHRC recommended just last month.
“Labour’s mountain to climb to win back the trust of our community just got higher.”
Meanwhile, Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said the “shambolic” suspension and re-admitting of him was “nothing more than a media stunt to blunt the blow of the EHRC’s report last month”.
“By readmitting Mr Corbyn, the Labour Party has once again excused antisemitism and proved itself unwilling to address it.
Accusing the party of a “failure to implement an independent disciplinary process” he said the “Jewish community has been conned.”
Karen Pollock, Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust asked, “‘What message does this send?
“Zero tolerance” either means zero tolerance or it’s meaningless. The scathing report from the EHRC less than three weeks ago outlined a stream of racism and discrimination by the Labour Party on Jeremy Corbyn’s watch. Yet here we are. Once again Corbyn has failed to take responsibility and the Labour Party have let him off the hook’”
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