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Saturday, February 02, 2019

Labour's anti-semitism row flares up again

Just when you thought that Jeremy Corbyn was clear of the anti-Semitism rows that have rocked the Labour Party for the past couple of years, the Independent reports that Labour MPs have given him a week to prove the leadership has got to grips with the issue.

The paper reports that MPs are braced for a fresh clash over the handling of anti-Jewish sentiment in Labour’s ranks amid warnings the party risks appearing “institutionally anti-semitic” if the issue is not addressed. They add that the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) will debate a motion on Monday that would give the leadership seven days to set out how it is addressing the allegations which engulfed the party last year.

Apparently, this latest ultimatum has come about because of anger over Labour’s handling of disciplinary cases, including the decision to reinstate ex-MP Jim Sheridan, now a councillor in Renfrewshire, in Scotland, who was suspended from the party last year for allegedly making anti-semitic comments online. Mr Sheridan apologised to the Jewish community but he said his accusers had overreacted:

The motion, tabled by Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell, said: “In the months that have followed the PLP is dismayed that there remains such a backlog of antisemitism cases that are still to be investigated and a decision reached – in particular the high-profile cases that it was promised would be concluded by July 2018.

“The PLP is very concerned by recent reports that a number of cases of alleged antisemitic activity from high-profile members have been dropped. The PLP calls on the party leadership to adequately tackle cases of antisemitism, as a failure to do so seriously risks antisemitism in the party appearing normalised and the party seeming to be institutionally antisemitic.”

Deputy leader Tom Watson suggested last year that Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby should step down if the antisemitism row had not been dealt with by Christmas.

He said Ms Formby had “staked” her career on dealing within antisemitism in Labour, after taking over from Iain McNicol in April 2018.

A Labour MP told The Independent: “Obviously a commitment was made that this would be dealt with by the end of the year. Since then, it hasn’t been gripped with or dealt with. There are still lots of outstanding cases and there are people who are being cleared and reinstated, having been suspended, where they have been guilty of egregious racism.”

This is yet another problem that Corbyn appears to be incapable of dealing with.
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