Tony Blair: I ‘sympathise’ with anger of Jewish community in anti-Semitism row

Tony Blair: I ‘sympathise’ with anger of Jewish community in anti-Semitism row

Former prime minister said failing to adopt the IHRA definition was a 'disastrous move', but he believed Corbyn is not anti-Semitic

Former PM Tony Blair
Former PM Tony Blair

Tony Blair has waded into the debate about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, saying its refusal to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism in full was “a disastrous move”.

Speaking to BBC’s Newsnight on Wednesday evening, Blair defended current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after he was asked about Dame Margaret Hodge’s accusation that he was “an anti-Semite”.

Blair said: “I’ve always said that I don’t believe he is personally anti-Semitic but I think this is a disastrous move for the Labour Party, this refusal to accept clearly the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definitions of anti-Semitism.”

The Labour Party adopted its new code of conduct on anti-Semitism at the latest meeting of the National Executive Committee, but did not adopt all working examples of the IHRA definition because some were deemed to threaten free speech on Israel.

Addressing the vitriol, Blair said: “I’m afraid I can understand the anger of much of the Jewish community and I sympathise with it.”


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Asked whether he would proceed with disciplinary sanctions against Hodge, the former prime minister said: “I think they would be crazy to proceed with that.”

Blair has become increasingly involved in day-to-day British politics and in March he urged Labour MPs to vote against Corbyn on Brexit if Labour policies withdrew Britain from Europe without an agreed plan for future arrangements.

The ex-PM is still seen as a figurehead by centrist Labour MPs, including Hodge, but his comments are seldom welcomed by left-wing socialist MPs who comprise Corbyn’s support base.

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