Yvette Cooper: Anti-Semitism row is ‘a mess’ for Labour
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Yvette Cooper: Anti-Semitism row is ‘a mess’ for Labour

Former Cabinet minister says issue won't go away until party fully adopts the international definition of what constitutes prejudice against Jews

Yvette Cooper
Yvette Cooper

The row over anti-Semitism in Labour will not go away until the party fully adopts the international definition of what constitutes prejudice against Jews, former Cabinet minister Yvette Cooper has warned.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think this problem that we are in is awful for the Labour Party that’s got such a history of fighting racism.

“To be stuck in this mess, it’s an awful situation that we are in.

“I think it is not going to go away until the party adopts the international definition of anti-Semitism.”

Asked if she agreed with deputy leader Tom Watson that the party faced a “vortex of eternal shame” if it failed to get to grips with the issue, she replied: “I support Tom on this. I think the point is we need to address it.”

Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey said the party needed to put the matter of anti-Semitism “to bed” and act quickly.

Speaking on a visit to wind turbine manufacturer Hutchinson Engineering in Widnes, Cheshire, she said: “It’s true to say that we weren’t dealing with things quickly enough and that’s why we needed

to act quickly and we still need to act quickly now in making sure that firstly, we liaise with the Jewish community and get our anti-Semitism code of conduct spot on so that it restores faith in our processes both within the Jewish community and outside.

“But we also roll out our educational programme to all of our members to explain in detail what language is acceptable and what language isn’t acceptable so that anybody who falls foul of that set of guidelines is immediately taken to task.”

She said she hoped Jeremy Corbyn had done enough to reassure the Jewish community and said work was being done to tackle the issue.

“Action is being taken but we can always do things quicker”, she said.

“I think we need to put this matter to bed now because we have to restore faith in the Jewish community and within the Labour Party itself, and restore faith in our processes.”

She declined to comment on whether disciplinary action against Ian Austin and Dame Margaret Hodge should be dropped but said: “I know that the topic of anti-Semitism is quite a dark and passionate subject for everybody in the Labour Party.

“We know that discussions have become heated and it’s not wrong to air your concerns to a parliamentary colleague but it should always be done in a respectful way.”

Ms Long-Bailey said she agreed with deputy leader Tom Watson that the issue needed to be tackled.

She added: “I haven’t looked at Twitter to see what anybody’s been saying but I don’t condone abuse of any kind of any member of the Labour Party or outside. I think we always need to be respectful

to each other.”

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