Senior Labour figures, including a shadow cabinet minister, have voiced concerns over Jeremy Corbyn’s links to extremists and his “inadequate” response to a string of troubling associations.
The frontrunner for the Labour leadership described Sheikh Raed Salah as an “honoured citizen” despite him having previously been accused of invoking the blood libel; branded Hamas and Hezbollah “friends”; and spoke out in support of controversial Church of England Rev Stephen Sizer.
Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Ivan Lewis wrote: “At the very least, he has shown very poor judgment in expressing support for and failing to speak out against people who have engaged not in legitimate criticism of Israeli governments, but in anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“It saddens me to have to say to some on the left of British politics that anti-racism means zero tolerance of anti-Semitism, no ifs, and no buts. I have said the same about Islamaphobia and other forms of racism to a minority of my constituents who make unacceptable statements.”
He also claimed Corbyn advocates policy “solutions which belong in the past”.
Meanwhile, John Mann, the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee Against Antisemitism, claimed Corbyn was not fit to lead the Labour Party unless he clearly condemned the string of ‘extremists’ with whom he has been linked.
Speaking before Corbyn addressed some communal concerns on Wednesday, he said his response to reports he had shared platforms with or spoke up for extremists was “inadequate”. He added: “Corbyn needs to condemn these people. He needs to go on the attack against them. What on earth is anyone in Parliament doing supporting these people? They should be isolated.”
He said it is “absolutely not” appropriate for someone with such associations to lead Labour if allegations facing him are accurate.
“Our approach on anti-Semitism is to re-educate people so we don’t write off anybody. But we want to see clear, decisive action statements from political leaders. As he’s one of the favourites to be Labour leader, he needs to be decisive on that.”
Meanwhile, Mann has highlighted dozens of anti-Semitic and abusive messages on Twitter from those expressing support for Corbyn.
They include one claiming Hillary Clinton is in the “pockets of big business and the Zionists” and another referring to “Zionist bankers”. Mann himself was referred to as a “Nazi Zionist” and “Zionist stooge”.
A Labour spokesperson said: “We have received a complaint and are looking into it.”
Mann suggested those expressing such sentiment were flocking to Corbyn “because of what they perceive he’ll stand for” and called on the leadership candidate to “show his intent by supporting them being thrown out” if they’ve become party members.
He added: “A Jewish activist needs to be as comfortable in the Labour Party as anybody else. If that isn’t the case, the party has got a huge problem. If he were the leader, he would need to guarantee that through his actions.”