Labour Party Struggles with Anti-Semitism

On Wednesday 18th July, Margaret Hodge MP acknowledged that she had confronted the Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, with the fact that he is seen as anti-Semitic – an action that has placed her under threat of disciplinary action.

Margaret Hodge MPMargaret Hodge MP

In that regard she was quickly followed by Ian Austin MP who is under threat of disciplinary action for confronting Ian Lavery, the Labour Party’s chairman, over the decision not to accept the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

The fact that arguments over anti-Semitism within the party are still raging is one sign of the extent of its problem. Ever since Jeremy Corbyn took over as leader the issue has become a significant one; with much criticism of a variety of his actions, including the appointment as election campaign leader in 2017 of a man who had expressed “solidarity with the heroic Palestinian people in Gaza.”  

Another sign of the scale of the problem is the amount of abuse received by anyone who accuses Jeremy Corbyn of anti-Semitism. Since Margaret Hodge confronted him, the Jewish Labour Movement has compiled a dossier containing 252 separate cases of abuse levelled at her.

The problem is so significant that on 25th July three leading Jewish newspapers in the UK published the same front page with the warning that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose an ‘existential threat to Jewish life.’

The three front pages

That drew an extreme accusation from one Labour councillor that the three newspapers may be working on behalf of the Mossad – Israel’s national intelligence agency.

Within this context it is more than a little surprising that any Labour Party spokesperson is prepared to describe Jeremy Corbyn as a ‘militant opponent of anti-Semitism.’ But perhaps that depends upon the definition of anti-Semitism that is used!

Now on Tuesday 31st July another indication of the scale of Labour’s problem has emerged in the form of a statement by a member of its National Executive Committee. Peter Willsman was recorded as saying that the accusations of anti-Semitism are being made by ‘Trump fanatics’ who have no supporting evidence.

The problem is clearly much greater than the Labour Party is prepared to admit.

And that has been highlighted on Wednesday 1st August after The Times revealed that in January 2010 Jeremy Corbyn hosted a talk titled ‘Never Again — for Anyone.’ That event was part of a UK tour called ‘Never Again for Anyone — Auschwitz to Gaza.’

This revelation forced the Labour Party leader to issue what The Times described as an ‘extraordinary apology.’ The question now is: Why did he apologise? Does he now disagree with the views expressed, or is it simply a problem to be overcome in his efforts to become the UK’s next Prime Minister?


This article was updated at 10:45 am on Wednesday 1st August 2018.