Over the past several years, the Jewish community has watched the descent of the Labour Party into abject racism with horror. The Party twice elected an antisemitic leader and subjected the nation to a racist Leader of the Opposition. Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has become institutionally antisemitic, defending antisemites and victimising those who stood up to them, cultivating animosity towards Jews at all levels and hounding out of the Party Jewish MPs and the most decent of their colleagues. This week saw yet more brazenly antisemitic displays by Mr Corbyn’s supporters.
Political developments appear to indicate that Mr Corbyn will not remain as leader of the Labour Party for long. At this time, we urge the Jewish community to be vigilant in case, as has happened so often in Jewish history and as the last few years and months foretell, the Jews may become a scapegoat as the more ardent of Mr Corbyn’s followers, many of whom hold antisemitic views, now search for where to cast the blame.
As to the Labour Party itself, two factions now exist within the parliamentary party: the first comprises those who support Mr Corbyn’s views towards Jews, including a cohort of new MPs; the second includes those who do not share his positions but who were nonetheless prepared to campaign for an antisemite to become Prime Minister. If the Labour Party wishes to begin to repair itself — an endeavour that will doubtless take some years — it is hard to see how either group could be trusted to lead that process.
That is why the involvement of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) — an invention of the once fiercely anti-racist Labour Party — is so crucial. The EHRC continues with its full statutory investigation of the Party, which it launched on 28th May following detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, and as complainant, we are meeting with the EHRC again today. We expect that the EHRC’s findings will in due course provide a legally-enforceable action plan for Labour to navigate its way back to respectability.
Over these past few years, the Jewish community has learned a lot about our country. It has learned who its true friends are — the many — and it has identified the few upon whom it cannot rely when tough decisions need to be made: those who say all the right things but decline to match their words with action.
However, the Jewish community has discovered that a portion of its fellow citizens maintain an ill-disposition towards Jews and that a significant segment of the population is indifferent to Jewish concerns and plight. But it has also seen tremendous goodwill towards Jewry throughout the country, and for that, our small Jewish minority is profoundly grateful.
Whether a change in Labour’s leadership comes to represent a new chapter in the Party’s — and our country’s — story remains to be seen. But Campaign Against Antisemitism will continue to do its work exposing and combating antisemitism in all political parties and across society, and we will continue to rely on your support to do so.
Gideon Falter, Chief Executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Not for the first time, our nation has stood firm against antisemitism. The British public has watched the once proudly anti-racist Labour Party become infested with Jew-hatred and it has resoundingly decided to stand with its Jewish community and give the antisemites a crushing rebuke. The faith that British Jews showed in our country has been vindicated.
“We urgently need to return to a time when antisemitism had no place in our politics. We must not allow ourselves to forget the fear that many British Jews felt yesterday when a Jeremy Corbyn premiership remained a possibility. Firm action must now be taken against antisemites in politics and those who enabled them, but an antisemite cannot be trusted to rid the Labour Party of this evil. The next Labour leader must be someone who has not been implicated in this crisis and we will hold them to account. They will need to comply with the Equality and Human Rights Commission when it releases its recommendations and, as the complainant in the Commission’s statutory investigation into Labour antisemitism, we will be meeting them today.”