Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner has promised to suspend “thousands and thousands” of party members unless they “get real” about antisemitism.
Speaking during the Jewish Labour Movement’s virtual One Day Conference, she warned Labour members:
“If they think making people feel unsafe or unwelcome in our meetings is a response to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), report, then they need to be out of our party immediately.
“We should have some humility and humbleness, and we should be listening and aware of how hurt and upset people are.
“If I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that.”
Rayner’s unequivocal pledge came as she confirmed there had been suspensions following a Nottingham East Constituency Labour Party meeting on Friday, in which party rules were broken after a motion calling for the restoration of the whip to Jeremy Corbyn was passed.
Addressing Corbyn’s reaction to the EHRC report, Rayner delivered a blistering attack on the former Leader for his “totally unacceptable” comments, adding that “any attempts to downplay the issue of antisemitism are part of the issue.”
“I don’t think Jeremy quite gets how really upsetting it is when he made those comments.
“I understand that he thinks he’s always tackled issues of antisemitism and racism, but on this he’s wrong. He has to accept as a leader that we failed.”
In October, the EHRC’s report into Labour’s antisemitism crisis concluded that there were “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination for which the Labour Party is responsible.”
Mr Corbyn was thereafter suspended by the party for claiming that “the scale of the problem was… dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents”.
Joining Rayner for the panel discussion on ‘Manchester, the UK’s Jewish 2nd City’ was Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester.
Pressed on whether the party had done enough to win back former Jewish Labour voters ahead of crucial elections next year, he admitted “probably not”.
“It would be wrong to think it’s fixed,” he added. “I think we’ve got to recognise it’s a five to 10 year job as the damage is so profound.”
The senior Labour figures also praised the work of the Jewish Strategic Group operating across Greater Manchester to help manage social care during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Burnham highlighting it as a “real model for how all communities should organise”.
On security, Rayner expressed how “absolutely devastating” it is that Jewish students must worry about security when travelling to school, promising to ensure “the funding and resources are there to ensure the Jewish community has the safety it deserves.”
Burnham additionally cautioned that the demographic growth of the Ultra Orthodox community in Manchester “must be planned for”, particularly with respect to housing and access to synagogues on Shabbat.
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