Labour peer resigns membership of 49 years over antisemitism

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Labour peer resigns membership of 49 years over antisemitism

Lord Meghnad Desai announced he is quitting in letter published by the Times, with CAA calling it a 'principled resignation' after the publication of the EHRC report

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Lord Desai
Lord Desai

An Labour peer has resigned from the party after nearly half-a-century of membership, citing antisemitism.

Indian-born Lord Meghnad Desai said he is quitting in a letter published by The Times, responding to its leader titled ‘Labour’s Lost’ on 19 November.

This comes after the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report into antisemitism in the party, which found it had broken equality law. 

In wake of the report, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s former leader, was suspended for saying Jew-hate had been “dramatically overstated” during his tenure. He was then re-admitted last week, causing anger in the community  – but Keir Starmer declined to restore the parliamentary whip. 

Lord Meghnad Desai, who was made a life peer in 1991, writes in the Times: “Sir, You are right to be worried about the likelihood of success of the policies of the leader of the Labour Party to fight antisemitism. 

“I agree with you that this makes the persistence of antisemitism more likely than not. I have submitted my resignation from the Labour Party after 49 years of membership.”

Desai, who will now sit as a non-affiliated peer in the Lords, is due to issue a statement through Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, for whom he is an adviser, on Monday.

Responding to the resignation, Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Lord Desai’s principled resignation from the Labour Party over antisemitism is the first such departure since Sir Keir Starmer became leader. 

“It is a courageous decision reminiscent of those MPs and peers who quit the Party under Jeremy Corbyn in disgust”, such as Luciana Berger with the Independent Group, Ian Austin,  and Louise Ellman.

CAA accused Labour of having “conned the Jewish community” by allowing Corbyn back into the party, adding the current process for cases is “a déjà vu return to the revolving door approach”, as it called for Keir Starmer to take stronger action.

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