Efforts to tackle alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party are going in the right direction but there remains a “long way to go”, Jewish leaders said after a virtual meeting with Keir Starmer on Friday.
The Labour leader met representatives from the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), the Community Security Trust (CST) and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).
Board president Marie van der Zyl, JLC chair Jonathan Goldstein, CST chair Gerald Ronson and JLM chair Mike Katz urged Starmer to take action against “senior Labour figures and other members who still trade in the tropes and behaviours of the last few years.”
The communal leaders also called on Jeremy Corbyn’s successor to “detoxify the culture of the party in relation to the Jewish community” and fulfil his leadership contest pledge to implement any recommendations made by the Equality and Human Rights Commission following the watchdog’s investigation into alleged antisemitism in the party.
They also asked that the party publish any relevant documents relating to inquiry.
The leaders said in a joint statement: “There was broad agreement that things are moving in the right direction, albeit with a long way still to go due to the scale of the mess that Sir Keir inherited.”
They added: “Overall, we give credit where credit is due and thank Sir Keir for the progress made so far, and hope to be able to reflect on further advances in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party at our next meeting in October.”
The representatives began the meeting by discussing the coronavirus pandemic and expressing solidarity with “black people in the face of the reminders of their experience of racism on both sides of the Atlantic”, they said.
Speaking after the meeting, Starmer said: “I am thankful to the Jewish community leaders who gave me their time and their views today. I am in no doubt that it will take time to rebuild trust between the Jewish community and the Labour Party. Some of the problems will not be fixed overnight.
“But I was pleased to update the meeting today on the work which has already taken place since we last met. We are beginning to wash clean the stain of antisemitism from our Party.
“At today’s meeting, I also emphasised that it is not enough for the Labour Party to have an effective system for dealing with antisemitism. I want to lead a party without any antisemitism, full stop. I also reiterated Labour’s commitment to implementing, in full, the recommendations of the EHRC’s inquiry.”