Margaret Hodge stands by calling Jeremy Corbyn ‘an anti-Semite’

Margaret Hodge stands by calling Jeremy Corbyn ‘an anti-Semite’

Veteran Labour MP tells BBC Radio 4 that 'accountability and responsibility' rests with the Labour leader over his failure to back IHRA

Dame Margaret Hodge speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme
Dame Margaret Hodge speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme

The former Labour cabinet minister who called Jeremy Corbyn “an anti-Semite” has stood by her accusation after of a meeting of the party’s MPs.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Monday morning, Dame Margaret Hodge defended her expletive-laden confrontation with Corbyn in the House of Commons last week, for which she may yet face disciplinary action.

Hodge had taken issue with the party’s ruling body and its decision not to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, instead creating a code of conduct which it says covers most points raised by the IHRA.

Corbyn said he found the accusation “upsetting” but Hodge stood by her words, saying “accountability and responsibility” rests with the party leader.

“You can carry on proclaiming you’re not anti-Semitic…but it’s by his actions that he has to be judged,” she said. “By refusing to adopt the definition in full, he’s put himself in the position that he’s perceived by many to be anti-Semitic.”

Her BBC comments come hours before Jewish parliamentarians Ruth Smeeth and Louise Ellman table a motion at the Parliamentary Labour Party meeting on Monday evening, calling for the full adoption of the IHRA definition.

Senior members of Labour’s National Executive Committee say they have adopted the IHRA definition in full, but not all of its working examples. One example states that it is anti-Semitic to call Israel a racist state, which critics say impacts on free speech.

Lady Basildon, Labour’s Leader in the House of Lords, has also said she hopes that the party adopts the IHRA definition in full “because that’s the one that gives the Jewish community confidence”.

Hodge said that the party’s failure to adopt the IHRA definition’s working examples was “a bridge too far” after its failure to tackle cases on anti-Semitism in recent years, the most high-profile of which was a decision to suspend – not expel – former mayor Ken Livingstone for claiming Hitler initially supported Zionism.

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