Tensions flare within Labour party over anti-Semitism controversy

Leadership criticised by backbenchers in Commons debate

(Image credit: Getty images)

29 March

Corbyn: 150 people removed from Labour over anti-Semitism

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he is “not an anti-Semite in any way”, following street protests over prejudice against Jews in the Labour Party.

In an interview with newspaper Jewish News, the Labour leader said that around 150 people had been kicked out or resigned from Labour over anti-Semitism, which he called “a cancer in our society”.

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Corbyn admitted that a total of 300 referrals regarding anti-Semitism have been filed by members since he took charge of the party, in 2015, but stressed that the total number of accused people represented only a tiny fraction of the party’s members.

“Of the Labour Party cases, some of which I inherited on becoming leader, there’s been 300 references since 2015: 60 are still under investigation, 24 have gone to the National Constitutional Committee, 24, roughly, went to a final warning, and 150 were either expelled or resigned,” Corbyn said. “That represents 0.02% of the party membership. There are other cases pending.”

Meanwhile, shadow chancellor John McDonnell promised to “eradicate” such prejudice from Labour, The Guardian reports.

“Any form of anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in our party,” McDonnell told the BBC’s Today programme this morning. “We are bringing forward mechanisms. They should have been implemented ages ago, but they will be now under a new general secretary.”

McDonnell spoke out hours after Christine Shawcroft, chair of Labour's internal disputes panel and a key Corbyn ally, was forced to resign after defending a council candidate who posted a Holocaust denial article.

Shawcroft was criticised for sending an email calling for the reinstatement of Alan Bull, who had been due to stand in local elections in Peterborough in May. Bull was suspended last week after posting a link on his Facebook page to an article that claimed the Holocaust was a “hoax”, the BBC reports.

Shawcroft said the post was “taken completely out of context”.

Corbyn is also facing calls from senior Jewish leaders to disown supporters who “vilified” anti-Semitism protesters outside the Houses of Parliament earlier this week, The Independent says. The Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) said it was a “disgrace” that people who joined the demonstration had been subjected to “abuse and insults”.

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