Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman: Swap ’empty platitudes’ for action

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Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman: Swap ’empty platitudes’ for action

'You have completely failed to address why the party sought to smear and intimidate whistleblowers rather than to listen to them'

Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge and Louise Ellman
Ruth Smeeth, Margaret Hodge and Louise Ellman

Three Labour MPs have written to Jeremy Corbyn to attack his “woeful” response to the antisemitism row, suggesting four steps to combat Jew-hate in the party.

Margaret Hodge, Louise Ellman and Ruth Smeeth urged Corbyn to “finally act” against antisemitism and put aside “empty platitudes and unproductive meetings” in a joint-letter released today.

Criticising Corbyn’s “woeful” record on tackling the antisemitism crisis, the letter condemns the party’s response to claims of interference in disciplinary cases reported in last week’s Panorama.

“Labour’s entire approach seems more interested in protecting you from further embarrassment rather than allowing whistleblowers to speak out against antisemitism,” it tells Corbyn. “You have completely failed to address why the party sought to smear and intimidate whistleblowers rather than to listen to them.”

The letter demands a “frank and full apology to the whistleblowers for the reprehensible way the party has treated them”, calling on the party to withdraw any legal actions seeking to silence them.

It also calls for the release to Labour’s governing body and Shadow Cabinet of the response to allegations of antisemitism raised by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Labour should also set up an independent complaints process separate from “party machinery and [Jeremy Corbyn’s office]” and an auto-exclusion policy for “clear cases of antisemitism,” it claims.

The letter echoes calls from community leaders to eradicate Jew-hate in Labour, ahead of an emergency meeting of the Shadow Cabinet, expected to convene on Monday.

Separate letters to Labour from the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council released today called for immediate change, including an appeal for Shadow Cabinet members to examine their “consciences”.

“We appeal to you, individually and collectively, to examine your consciences and do everything in your power to stop Labour Party antisemitism,” Jewish Leadership Council Chair Jonathan Goldstein wrote.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is implacably opposed to antisemitism and determined to root it out of our movement and our society. We stand in solidarity with Jewish people and we are fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations.

“We are taking decisive action against antisemitism, doubling the number of staff dedicated to dealing with complaints and cases, and swiftly suspending and taking robust action against individuals. Since Jennie Formby became General Secretary, the rate at which antisemitism cases have been dealt with has increased more than four-fold. We will continue to act against this repugnant form of racism.”

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