(October 29, 2020 / JNS) The British Labour Party has suspended its former leader, Jeremy Corbyn, after a watchdog group in the United Kingdom found that the party’s leadership has failed to address anti-Semitism and complaints about hatred towards Jews.
In response to the report, Corbyn said, “One anti-Semite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
“That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated. My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome,” he continued. “While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
A party spokesperson told multiple outlets that “in light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
Having the whip removed means that Corbyn will no longer be able to vote in the U.K. House of Commons as a Labour lawmaker.
On Thursday, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, a non-departmental public body in England and Wales, released a report confirming that the Labour Party has had “serious failings … in addressing anti-Semitism and an inadequate process for handling anti-Semitism complaints.”
The report found that Labour violated the Equality Act of 2010 in three ways: “political interference in anti-Semitism complaints,” “failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints” and “harassment.”
The watchdog gave the Labour Party until Dec. 10 “to draft an action plan to implement the recommendations, which is legally enforceable by the court if not fulfilled.”
Caroline Waters, interim chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said in a statement, “The Labour Party made a commitment to zero tolerance for anti-Semitism. Our investigation has highlighted multiple areas where its approach and leadership to tackling anti-Semitism was insufficient. This is inexcusable and appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle anti-Semitism rather than an inability to do so.”
“It is encouraging to see the party’s new leadership has committed to implementing our recommendations in full,” continued Waters. “If the party truly wants to rebuild trust with its members and the Jewish community, it must acknowledge the impact that numerous investigations and years of failure to tackle anti-Semitism has had on Jewish people, and take swift, sincere action to improve.”
‘Never again will we lose your trust’
Labour leader Keir Starmer described the release of the report, whose findings he completely accepted, as a “day of shame” for the party. He vowed to implement its recommendations.
While Starmer declined to criticize Corbyn by name, he said the report deemed a “collective failure of leadership.”
He also noted that “the report doesn’t make individual findings about Jeremy Corbyn.”
However, Starmer said that those who labeled allegations of anti-Semitism as “exaggerated or a factional attack” were “part of the problem” and should be “nowhere near the Labour party.”
“Never again will we fail to tackle anti-Semitism and never again will we lose your trust,” he said.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which filed a complaint after Corbyn’s reaction to the report, called his suspension “a hugely significant turning point and an indicator of real change and accountability at last.”
— Campaign Against Antisemitism (@antisemitism) October 29, 2020
In a statement, the Jewish Labour Movement said, “We were told that this racism was imagined, fabricated for factional advantage or intended to silence debate. Today’s report confirms that our voices were marginalized and our members victimized.”
In a statement, Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, said Corbyn’s suspension “marks an important milestone in eliminating the scourge of hatred and anti-Semitism from a historic and important party in Britain. The Labour Party is setting an example to the entire world in removing anti-Semitism from the political game.”
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