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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

How big is Labour's anti-semitism problem?

There is no doubt that Luciana Berger's defection to the nebulous Independent Group in the House of Commons has forced a number of senior figures in Labour to face up to the anti-Semitism problem in the party. But just how widespread is that issue?

According to this piece in the Independent, the Momentum founder, Jon Lansman believes that Labour has “a much larger” group of anti-semitic members than it recognises and which Jeremy Corbyn has failed to “deal with".

They say that the Labour leader’s long-standing ally believes “conspiracy theorists” had infiltrated the party as a consequence of its huge surge in membership in recent years:

Mr Lansman stopped short of backing the call from Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, for Mr Corbyn to take personal charge of the antisemitism complaints dogging Labour.

But he said: “I do think we have a major problem and it always seems to me that we underestimate the scale of it. I think it is a widespread problem.

“I think it is now obvious that we have a much larger number of people with hardcore antisemitic opinions which, unfortunately, is polluting the atmosphere in a lot of constituency parties and in particular online. We have to deal with these people.”

The paper adds that one Jewish Labour MP, Ruth Smeeth, has told of “vile” abuse similar to that which had “hounded” Luciana Berger out of the party, to help form The Independent Group of MPs:

She said: “One of my friends has changed my Twitter password so I can’t see anything that’s being said about me. My staff hide all of the abuse.

“I get convictions, we’re had convictions, I get a lot of regular abuse and thankfully not from within my own local party in Stoke-on-Trent, but nationally we have party members have been saying vile things about me who have never met me.

“If they have those values, they have no right to be in my party at all and they can leave.”

When will Labour face up to this problem and deal with it?
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