The Jewish Labour Movement has congratulated Keir Starmer on his election as new party leader, as he commits to tackling antisemitism a priority.
Jeremy Corbyn’s successor won 56.2% of the vote, with Angela Rayner elected deputy leader with 52.6% of the vote.
This comes after more than five years of strained relations with the Jewish community over the party’s handling of antisemitism under Jeremy Corbyn.
The Labour Party is being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission over claims of institutional antisemitism. It is due to issue its report this year.
Newly-elected leader Sir Keir paid tribute to outgoing leader Jeremy Corbyn and said he would work to stamp out antisemitism in the party.
“Antisemitism has been a stain on our party. I have seen the grief that it’s brought to so many Jewish communities. On behalf of the Labour Party, I am sorry.”
“I will tear out this poison by its roots and judge success by the return of Jewish members and those who felt that they could no longer support us.”
Mike Katz, National Chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, said: “Mazel tov to Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner on their election as Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. This change of leadership must mark a turning point for Labour in its relationship with the Jewish community. Nobody should be under any illusion: restoring trust will take effort, time and political will.”
“We need to see strong, moral leadership on the vital task of ridding the Labour Party of antisemitism from the outset and changing a toxic culture that tolerates racism.”
“Reforming our disciplinary process must go hand in hand with education to ensure lasting change. This process will take time; we expect the new Leader to send clear political signals from the outset, including publishing Labour’s response to the EHRC and staff changes that will set us on course to achieve change.”
He added: “The past five years have without doubt been one of the darkest times for Jewish Labour members and supporters. We will dare to be optimistic that the Party can once again be safe place for Jews, but we are equally clear that this is just the beginning of that process.”
Speaking to Jewish News after the Labour leadership hustings in February, Sir Keir said he would work to eradicate antisemitism “from day one” as leader.
While declining to refer to himself as a Zionist, he said: “I do support Zionism. I said that last night. I absolutely support the right of Israel to exist as a homeland.”
“My only concern is that Zionism can mean slightly different things to different people, and as Lisa [Nandy] said, to some extent it has been weaponised. I wouldn’t read too much into that. I said it loud and clear – and meant it – that I support Zionism without qualification.”