Treasurer in Corbyn’s local party quits because ‘anti-Semites feel comfortable’

Russell Smith-Becker posts resignation on Facebook in which he asks whether the Labour Party is still a 'force for good'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The treasurer of Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency Labour Party has resigned over the anti-Semitism row.

Russell Smith-Becker handed in his membership this week after nearly three decades, because the party has “become somewhere where anti-Semites feel comfortable and many Jews feel uncomfortable”.

After 28 years’ of activism in Islington North, he posted his resignation letter on Facebook, explaining why he had to quit the party which has “been a big part of my life”.

Following March’s ‘Enough is Enough’ rally in Parliament Square against Labour anti-Semitism, Smith-Becker says he wrote to the Labour leader urging him to “act swiftly and convincingly” on the issue.

He then lists series of unresolved cases which have worsened relations between the party and community since. These include Ken Livingstone being allowed to resign instead of facing expulsion, Jackie Walker’s continued membership, Chris Williamson MP associating with “people who are subjects to complaints of antisemitism”, and a lack of progress clearing the backlog of cases involving anti-Semitism complaints.

He also cited the most recent saga, involving the party’s adopting of a “watered down” version of a definition of anti-Semitism supported by the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and other community bodies, which led to Jewish MP Margaret Hodge branding Corbyn an “anti-Semite and a racist.”

The ex-Labour official tells Corbyn in the letter, “you have said that you are not anti-Semitic and I believe you. Merely saying this is not enough though – if you are so often tolerant towards anti-Semitism then this has the same practical effect as if you were anti-Semitic, and it is hardly surprising that people like Margaret Hodge might get the impression that you are.”

He concludes by saying: “I am happy to support a party which is a force for good even if I have some differences, but I am no longer sure that the Labour party is a force for good.

“I therefore resign my membership of the Labour party. The Labour party has become somewhere antisemites feel comfortable and where many Jews feel uncomfortable – I hope I can join again when it is the other way around.”

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