Wes Streeting: Corbyn shows lack of leadership on anti-Semitism

Wes Streeting: Corbyn shows lack of leadership on anti-Semitism

The Labour MP for Ilford North accused the leader of having not 'acknowledged the extent and the nature of the problem'

Jeremy Corbyn wants Spurs fans to stop singing 'Yid Army' chant
Jeremy Corbyn wants Spurs fans to stop singing 'Yid Army' chant

A Labour MP has accused Jeremy Corbyn of failing to show leadership in efforts to tackle anti-Semitism in the party.

Wes Streeting, a critic of Mr Corbyn and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on British Jews, spoke out as the issue came to the fore again at the party’s conference.

Leaflets distributed outside a meeting on religious hatred by the left-wing pressure group Momentum were branded “anti-Semitic and undeniably racist” by Mr Streeting.

The leaflets claimed that the Jewish Labour Movement acted as “a representative of a foreign power, Israel” and called for it to be disaffiliated from the Labour Party.

 Wes Streeting
Wes Streeting

Mr Streeting told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That last comment, ‘acts as a representative of a foreign power’, this isn’t ambiguous. This is classic anti-semitic trope, at our conference.

“In terms of some of the people we’re talking about, and the problem that occurs, they’re not going to listen to people like me.

“But they do place a lot of faith and stock in Jeremy.

“As someone who has a track record of tackling racism and discrimination, I think in the past year he’s had a golden opportunity which he hasn’t yet taken up to show real leadership on this, and help navigate through some of the problems we face in terms ofanti-semitism.”

Mr Streeting acknowledged that anti-Semitism was not a problem among the vast majority of Labour members, and that anti-Semitism can be used to shut down legitimate debate on Israel.

He added: “But sometimes that debate does spill over into anti-semitism.

“Jeremy Corbyn has got an opportunity to show real leadership to help steer us through.

“I feel in the past year he hasn’t acknowledged the extent and the nature of the problem, or helped us reach a solution.”

There were reports from the party conference of three incidents of anti-semitic abuse at the Labour Friends Of Israel stand.

Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger said: “I’m frankly appalled by the comments I’ve learned have been made at an event just down the road from Labour Party conference, from the platform of an organisation which purports to be supporting the Labour Party.

“There are too many examples of where my Jewish parliamentary colleagues, where my Jewish council colleagues, where Jewish members have been attacked because they are Jewish.

“We need to stamp it out.”

The Campaign Against Antisemitism last week filed a formal complaint with the Labour Party over Mr Corbyn’s alleged failure to tackle anti-semitism.

Mr Corbyn has repeatedly said he condemns any forms of abuse and discrimination.

He commissioned the Chakrabarti report earlier this year, which also concluded there was no widespread anti-semitism within Labour.

Jackie Walker, vice chair of Momentum, has been suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of anti-semitism, which she denies.

She was one of the speakers at the Momentum event where the leaflets were distributed.

She told the BBC afterwards: “A number of people with a number of interests, who want to undermine Jeremy, have come together and are, shall we say, exaggerating, publicising, pointing to anti-semitism in a way they didn’t before.

“That is because of his support of the Palestinians.”

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