Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to “root out” anti-Semitism during an LBC radio phone-in.
Accused of “empty words” since becoming leader by a caller on Nick Ferrari’s LBC show Starmer defended his stance in reaching out to the Jewish community to tackle and “kick anti-Semites out” of the party.
“What will it take for you to kick someone out of the Labour party for anti-Semitism?” the caller asked Starmer.
Putting Starmer under pressure after spending five years standing by former leader Jeremy Corbyn and campaigning to make him Prime Minister, the caller added, “Saying the right things now when you ignored the Jewish community at a time when they were crying out for help, now when it’s convenient, that’s not principled, its empty words.”
Starmer did not defend his support of Corbyn but noted his actions since becoming leader.
“Within hours, I reached out to Jewish groups and leaders across the UK,” he said.
A “frank discussion” had taken place with communal leaders where Starmer explained how he would “root out” anti-Semitism. Starmer said leaders had given him “enough trust” to do what he had to do and was aware of the scale of the task.
Stating changes had taken place to the disciplinary process and people had been expelled from the party, the Labour leader added, “Trust me by my actions… Give me the space to show what I will do and I will kick anti-Semites out of the Labour Party.’’
Regarding Starmer’s claims about recent change, there have indeed been suspensions.
Rebecca Massey, former chair of Central Hove, Brunswick and Adelaide CLP, was expelled from the party, although reportedly not for anti-Semitism. Ray Mooney, chairman of the North Norfolk Labour Party, though has been suspended over anti-Semitism allegations.
Elsewhere, four of Wavertree Constituency Labour Party’s executive who criticised local MP Paula Barker for expressing regret that predecessor, Luciana Berger, felt she had to leave the party, have been suspended pending an investigation.
The quartet are CLP chair, Nina Houghton, secretary, Kevin Bean, women’s officer Helen Dickson and BAME officer Hazuan Hashim.
CAA welcomed the investigations but are concerned other cases are outstanding.
“They noted, “Suspension is not in itself a sanction and an independent disciplinary process must be established immediately to ensure that these cases are dealt with swiftly, fairly and transparently.”
Starmer, when asked by Ferrari whether he trusted the independence of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said he did.
Pointing out he’d campaigned to establish the commission be set up, Starmer added, “It’s shocking they are looking into the party… but will I’ll read and implement it.”
A number of Labour MPs, including Corbyn, have questioned EHRC’s independence.
The commission is investigating anti-Semitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Corbyn, meantime, has been in the news this month.
Aside from slating the EHRC in his first interview since stepping down as leader, with fringe blog, Middle East Eye, Corbyn also slammed US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan whilst defending his response to anti-Semitism.
CAA said the recent interview was a latest attempt by the far-left to undermine the EHRC.
“Corbyn’s leadership may be over but the sordid campaign to rehabilitate his ghastly legacy is in full swing,” CAA noted.
Controversial filmmaker and Corbyn ally Ken Loach, meanwhile, has described a BAFTA Television Award nomination for Panorama’s “Is Labour Antisemitic?” a “disgrace”.
Loach called the programme a “crude polemic, without balance or objectivity, intended to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership,” and claimed that BAFTA’s choice was a “blatant attempt to rehabilitate a discredited piece of propaganda”. “It should fool no-one,” he added.
Loach was quoted in hard-left blog The Canary, who are currently under investigation by the Government’s Independent Advisor on Antisemitism.
The programme, televised in July 2019, showed former Labour Party staffers reveal Corbyn’s interference in disciplinary cases relating to antisemitism.
Labour duly submitted a 28-page complaint to the BBC, claiming the programme failed to meet BBC standards, but the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit back the episode.
Labour took its complaint to Ofcom but withdrew it earlier this year.
Veteran left-wing activist Tariq Ali, meantime, has linked Israel to the racist murder of George Floyd.
Ali made his astonishing comments in an online panel discussion with Corbyn and political activist Arundhati Roy during a debate for the Stop the War Coalition, which in the past has appeared to advocate war against Israel and whose marches have featured anti-Semitic tropes.
Ali claimed American police forces are trained in Israel and learned techniques of restraint.
Ali also accused “Israeli embassies” of claiming any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic and that one of the “central targets” of a campaign was Corbyn.
Corbyn did not respond to Ali’s claims about Israel. During the conversation, he noted that anti-Semitism was wrong, evil and should not be condoned in any circumstances.