Owen Smith attacks Corbyn’s failure to take on anti-Semitism

Owen Smith attacks Corbyn’s failure to take on anti-Semitism

The two runners in the Labour leadership election clashed on the party's attitude towards women and Jewish people

Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith   (Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)
Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith (Photo credit: Ben Birchall/PA Wire)

Owen Smith has launched a fresh attack on Jeremy Corbyn for failing to crack down on anti-Semitic and misogynistic abuse within the Labour Party.

In the latest leadership debate, Mr Smith said they should be “deeply ashamed” that they were mired in controversy about its attitude towards women and Jewish people.

Mr Corbyn insisted he had dealt “very robustly” with complaints of bullying and abuse and said he wanted to “reach out” to MPs in the party who had opposed his leadership.

However, Mr Smith warned there was a “chasm” between the faith that many party members had in Mr Corbyn and the majority of MPs.

Appearing on BBC Two’s Victoria Derbyshire show, Mr Smith said Mr Corbyn had not stamped down hard enough on abuse within the party.

“There have been occasions when Jeremy has just not seemed bothered enough by it,” he said.

“Lots of my female MP colleagues feel Jeremy wasn’t supportive enough. Lots of the Jewish MP colleagues feel Jeremy wasn’t quick enough to condemn anti-Semitic abuse.

“We are the Labour Party and we are having a debate on national television about anti-Semitism and misogyny within the Labour Party and that should make us all deeply ashamed.

“There are shades of hard left opinion that have drifted into anti-Semitic abuse aboutIsrael and that is at the heart of the concerns that many in the party have.”

Mr Corbyn insisted that he had made clear that such abuse had no place in the party and that the rules were being tightened.

“I have dealt with very strongly and very robustly any complaints about abuse. It has no place in any political party. I have made absolutely clear that any kind of abuse is totally unacceptable in any form,” he said.

He said that if he was re-elected as leader he would invite critics who walked out of the shadow cabinet to re-join.

“I wanted to create a broad-based shadow cabinet, a broad-based team and I will do exactly the same again if I am re-elected in September,” he said.

“I would ask those Labour MPs to remember that they have been elected – like I have, like Owen has – as Labour MPs.

“We have a huge responsibility to represent our party and the people that have elected us in Parliament and that means we have got to work together.”

The pair clashed repeatedly over the issue of abuse within the party.

A young Labour supporter said she would “feel more comfortable” going to a Conservative Party conference and saying she was a Labour supporter than going to a Labour conference and saying she supported Owen Smith.

Mr Smith said the reason there is abuse within the party is that “we have become divided between people who are supportive of you and the rest of the Labour Party” with supporters of Mr Corbyn feeling he is the “only socialist in the Labour Party”.

“The truth is I’m not a red Tory, I’m not a Blairite, I’m a socialist same as you,” Mr Smith said.

The leadership-hopeful said that people within Labour who do not support Mr Corbyn are deemed “not pure enough”.


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