Antisemitism is a “stain” on Labour which could take years to investigate, one of the party’s senior Jewish MPs has said.
Louise Ellman said the party needs to “root out” antisemitism now and that a possible investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission could take years to complete.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Liverpool Riverside MP said: “There is a major problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party, and I do understand that many long-standing Labour Party members are so shocked about this, they find it very hard to accept.
“But the evidence is there and the Equality and Human Rights Commission are now considering a judicial investigation into the Labour Party to look at institutional antisemitism. What a stain on the Labour Party that we are at that situation.
“I have confidence in the commission, but the commission itself, if it goes ahead with its inquiry, could take up to two years, so we need action to root out antisemitism now. It is high time that the Labour Party not just admitted its problem with antisemitism, but actually dealt with it.
“It is clear that the leader of the Labour Party, having failed to deal with antisemitism within the party, now admits he knew about some of the problems.”
Ellman said: “We are now in the situation there are actually three Labour candidates in one local authority election who are actually being suspended because of antisemitism. One talking about the Rothschilds’ financing of the Nazis, the other talking about the new world order of Zionist Jews. What has the Labour Party come to?”
She added: “It is an undisputed fact that since Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party, antisemitism within the Labour Party has developed and it is rife and it has not been dealt with yet. The only time where it is dealt with properly is when there is public exposure.”
Ellman said the key question now is how to deal with the issue.
Is the Labour anti-Semitism row being used to discredit Jeremy Corbyn?
"The rise of anti-Semitism in Labour came with the election of Jeremy Corbyn," claims Jewish Labour MP @LouiseEllman. She wants it resolved but doesn't say he should resign #r4today https://t.co/NcMwrons0K
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) April 15, 2019
She said there is “no realistic proposition that the leadership could be successfully challenged”, so she wants to concentrate on exposing antisemitism within the party.
Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey said it should be easier to suspend members while antisemitism is being investigated.
Healey said: “It does seem to be clear, and it has always been clear to me talking with Jeremy about this, that he is really concerned, and has always been really concerned that not enough is being done.
“It is why in recent times we have brought in an in-house lawyer, we’ve set up special panels to deal with complaints, we’ve doubled the size of the body that can expel members.
“But it is also clear that what is being done is not fast enough, it’s not tough enough, and I would like to see, to be honest, whether we could move to a position where we can suspend first then investigate such cases.”