The Jewish former Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth, has declared of her Party that “the unresolved crisis of antisemitism nearly cost us our soul” in a stinging rebuke of the Party’s outgoing leader, Jeremy Corbyn, of whom she said: “his failure on anti-Jewish racism will rightly forever tarnish his reputation – and those around him in both Parliament and the Party.”
Writing in The House magazine, Ms Smeeth wrote of how “I experienced the horror of being a Jewish female Labour MP at a time when it felt that the leadership of my Party thought that Jews were fair game – something I still can’t believe I’m writing.” She went on to describe how “I sat in meetings with Corbyn as he refused to acknowledge that we had a problem or that he should take any responsibility.”
Referencing Mr Corbyn’s numerous failures to deal with antisemitism, Ms Smeeth observed how she was ignored, even abused. “The justification of ‘that’ mural; the ‘Zionists don’t understand irony’ video; his association with known Holocaust deniers; his support for Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson and those who minimised the scale of the problem, and of course his ‘present but not involved’ laying of a wreath to honour terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. Each time, I and others fought back.
“For three years, nearly every week, we would see yet another antisemitism scandal. Every week I, with others, tried to make Corbyn act to fix it…But we were ignored and dismissed – occasionally shouted at.”
Ms Smeeth described Mr Corbyn’s common refrain – “I oppose all forms of racism” – as “trite, emotionless and hollow.” She added that “It’s never a good look to deflect from your own racism by pointing out the problems with others.” The response from the Labour leadership was “shameful”.
Ms Smeeth also wrote of the “ignominy” of Labour being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), blaming Mr Corbyn’s leadership for having “indelibly stained us as a Party that tolerated racists.”
Mr Smeeth was referring to the full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party launched by the EHRC on 28th May 2019 following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.