Jeremy Corbyn’s former chief of staff has said a “highly politicised media campaign” stoked Labour’s antisemitism crisis, with internal political rivals setting his top team “traps” on the handling of individual cases.
Writing in the Guardian, Karie Murphy – who along with Seamus Milne was among the former Labour leader’s closest lieutenants – defended Corbyn’s record and spoke of her “pride” at their progress on Jew hate in the party.
Antisemites’ party memberships were withdrawn more swiftly on her boss’s watch, she said, as she denied meddling in cases – claims famously made by whistleblowers to a BBC Panorama programme.
Murphy said a “relentless and highly politicised media campaign… hurt Jewish people and disturbed and confused many in our movement”.
She added that there had been an “extremely successful campaign to obscure the facts” about how the party handled complaints, which was “primarily driven by political opposition to Jeremy Corbyn’s socialist, internationalist politics”.
The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) later accused her of “smears” and “gaslighting”.
She said: “Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, antisemites were removed from the Labour party more quickly, transparently and effectively than ever before. As his former chief of staff, I’m proud of that record.”
With a major review into alleged institutional antisemitism in the party due any day now, she said she regretted the souring of relations between Labour and the Jewish community but said that this “wasn’t for lack of trying”.
Murphy also accused Corbyn’s ideological rivals working within Labour of setting “factional traps” for him and his team by asking for their input into individual complaint handing cases, knowing that there should be no political interference.
“Could more have been done earlier? Yes, of course. But what was done – including changes to the party’s rules and instituting detailed guidance on antisemitism for an expanded complaints team – unquestionably made it easier and swifter to remove antisemites from the party.”
JLM chair Mike Katz rubbished her arguments, saying its efforts to engage with Corbyn’s team were rebuffed as Jewish Labour party members “faced continued discrimination, harassment and victimisation”.
He said Corbyn’s team’s “only success on antisemitism was the rigour with which they protected their political allies, downplayed the issue and gaslit those who spoke up against it,” adding that “smearing the pain of our members and the wider Jewish community as part of a ‘highly politicised media campaign’ is shameful”.
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