Why Margaret Hodge called Jeremy Corbyn a racist in Commons clash

Former minister confronted Labour leader following adoption of controversial new guidelines on anti-Semitism

Jeremy Corbyn
(Image credit: Rob Stothard/Getty Images)

Veteran Jewish Labour MP Margaret Hodge confronted Jeremy Corbyn in the Commons and called him a racist for upholding controversial new guidelines on tackling anti-Semitism in the party, according to reports.

HuffPost’s Paul Waugh says former minister Hodge “confronted the Labour leader after the crunch Commons votes on Brexit, telling him he didn’t want people like her in the party any more”.

“You’re a f***ing anti-Semite and a racist,” Hodge allegedly told Corbyn, after cornering him behind the Speaker’s chair, out of range of the cameras. “You have proved you don’t want people like me in the party.”

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Corbyn apparently replied: “I’m sorry you feel like that.” Hodge is said to have retorted: “It is not what you say but what you do, and by your actions you have shown you are an anti-Semitic racist.”

Hodge has since denied swearing, The Jewish Chronicle reports, but a separate source - another, unnamed Labour MP - told the newspaper that reports of the bust-up were “totally true”.

The alleged exchange follows the adoption of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) of an alternative definition of anti-Semitism to the international standard, which “has enraged Labour opponents of Jeremy Corbyn like little we’ve seen before”, says Politico’s Jack Blanchard.

The new code of conduct “fails to incorporate all the examples listed alongside the internationally accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism”, says The Guardian.

It has been heavily criticised by a number of Jewish groups “for appearing to allow the party to fudge certain forms of abuse, amid claims by Corbyn supporters that they don’t want to stifle debate about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians”, says HuffPost’s Waugh.

The specific examples removed from the IHRA definition include accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than their own nations and comparing Israeli actions with those of the Nazis.

The party has argued the removed examples were already covered in a wider new code of conduct, but “claimed some of the original examples needed clarification to be used by a political party and to avoid stifling debate”, reports The Guardian.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband - who has a Jewish heritage but was brought up in an atheist household - has waded into the row, saying: “Labour should adopt the full IHRA definition. The argument that it is somehow incompatible with criticising the actions of the Israeli government is wrong. The views of the vast majority of the Jewish community are very clear. I would urge the NEC to get on with this at speed.”

Hodge has been a staunch critic of Corbyn and was one of the MPs who triggered a vote of no confidence in him in 2016, resulting in a second leadership election.

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