Labour’s former general secretary Lord Triesman has resigned his Party membership, citing “institutional antisemitism”, alongside two other top peers.
Triesman, 75, who served as a Foreign Office minister under Tony Blair’s premiership before chairing the Football Association, has been one of very few senior Jewish figures to stick with Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
He resigned the whip shortly before Lord Turnberg and Lord Darzi followed suit on Tuesday afternoon.
In a letter to Baroness Angela Smith, Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, he said he was resigning the whip with immediate effect, describing it as a “painful decision arrived at with great sadness” but “inevitable”.
He said: “Day by day the extent and depth of antisemitism became clearer in the top leadership and the National Executive Committee. Antisemites are shielded and solid and serious Party members are thrown out unceremoniously.
“Each new manifestation is followed by a grim parade of social media messages directed at Jewish Party members. The experience of life in the Party has become sickening.”
Triesman said the Party had “slipped into the familiar gutter of so many of the hard left and the old tropes about the secret wiring connecting Jewish entrepreneurs and the use of wealth to exercise secretive control can be heard almost daily”.
In a series of damaging remarks aimed at Corbyn and his inner circle, Triesman said Labour’s leadership now used “any excuse to allow their allies to attack Jews or to engage with antisemites”.
He wrote: “My sad conclusion is that the Labour Party is very plainly institutionally antisemitic, and its leader and his circle are antisemitic, having never once made the right judgement call about an issue, reflecting deep prejudice.”
BREAKING: Lord Triesman has resigned the Labour whip, citing "institutional anti-Semitism".
— BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) July 9, 2019
While his resignation letter also included criticism of the Party’s position on Brexit and Russia, Triesman said the Party was “no longer a safe environment for Jewish people or other opponents of antisemitism”.
He added: “I always said it was worth hanging on to fight so long as there was a prospect of winning. I now don’t believe with this leadership there is.”
Triesman’s resignation came just a day before a widely-anticipated BBC Panorama programme was due to air. Producers are believed to have leaked evidence of political interference in Labour’s decision-making over cases of alleged antisemitism.
Former health minister Lord Darzi of Denham told BBC Two’s Newsnight: “I confirm I am leaving the Labour Whip to sit as an independent.
“As an Armenian survivor of the Armenian genocide I have zero tolerance to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any other discrimination against religion or race.
“This decision has not been lightly taken.”
Lord Turnberg, a former president of the Royal College of Physicians, also resigned the Labour whip, the BBC reported.
Simon Johnson, head of the Jewish Leadership Council tweeted: “My former boss makes a bold and courageous decision to leave the Party he served for so long.”
Along with Lord Turnberg, these two loyal servants of the party have clearly reached the end of their tether with Labour Antisemitism”.
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