Anti-Semitism furore turns even more toxic
Fury as Corbyn aide dismisses row as only a ‘smear’ Lord Winston says leader ‘has a lot to answer for’ PM warns of risk to Jews in Britain
Labour’s anti- semitism row deepened last night as a key Corbyn ally tried to dismiss it as a smear attempt.
senior party figure Christine shawcroft said the crisis had simply been ‘stirred up’ by critics.
It came as Labour peer Lord Winston said Mr Corbyn had ‘encouraged and endorsed’ anti-semites in the party, adding: ‘He has a lot to answer for’.
and the party’s former chief fundraiser Lord Levy revealed he had received hate mail calling him a ‘Jewish pig bloodsucker’ after he criticised the Labour leader this week. Miss shawcroft, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), said it ‘absolutely beggars belief’ to suggest Mr Corbyn is giving succour to anti-semites poisoning his party.
she suggested the concerns raised by Jewish groups, Labour moderates and others were concocted to damage Mr Corbyn. ‘This whole row is being stirred up to attack Jeremy, as we all know,’ she said. ‘That someone who has spent his whole life fighting racism in all its forms should find himself being accused of not doing enough to counter it, absolutely beggars belief.’ The row came as:
Mr Corbyn used a video message to the Jewish community to acknowledge Labour needed to ‘do better’ to deal with the hatred of some hard-Left activists towards Jews.
39 Labour MPs and peers wrote a letter demanding he axe Mrs shawcroft from the NEC.
Theresa May said it was time for all public figures to ‘stand up and make our voices heard in the face of anti-semitism’.
Miss shawcroft’s comments undermined efforts by Mr Corbyn to mend fences with the Jewish community. she was sacked as chairman of Labour’s disciplinary panel on Wednesday after the Mail revealed she had opposed the suspension of an apparent Holocaust denier who was standing as a Labour council candidate.
In a message on Facebook, which was later deleted, Miss shawcroft insisted she was ‘not a Holocaust denier’ and would not knowingly support one.
The anti-semitism crisis culminated this week in an unprecedented demonstration in Westminster by Jewish community leaders. In a video message to mark Passover, Mr Corbyn said his party would ‘never be complacent about anti-semitism,’ adding: ‘We all need to do better.’ He went on: ‘It is easy to denounce anti-semitism when you see it in other countries, in other political movements. It is sometimes harder to see it when it is closer to home.’
However, Mr Corbyn was last night resisting calls from dozens of Labour MPs and peers to remove Miss shawcroft from the disciplinary panel altogether and suspend her from the NEC. she is a long- time ally on
‘This beggars belief’
Labour’s hard-Left and a director of the Momentum group.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, described Miss shawcroft’s comments as ‘disgusting’. she posted on Twitter: ‘I’ll tell you what beggars belief: That instead of asking serious questions as to why a member of your party thinks it’s oK to post sickening material denying the Holocaust, you suggest the huge concern regarding anti-semitism is “stirred up” and enough is being done to combat it. Disgusting.’
Veteran Labour MP siobhan McDonagh said it was time for Mr Corbyn to stop paying lip service to the issue and take action against his friend and ally. she said: ‘I would say we have got enough letters to paper Nelson’s Column saying that Jeremy will take action. The time for words is over.’
Fellow Labour MP Wes streeting said: ‘Even when caught redhanded defending a Holocaust denier, Christine shawcroft still dismisses genuine concerns about anti-semitism. Enough is enough. Christine shawcroft must resign from the NEC immediately. she has no shame.’ asked if she would be suspended, a Labour Party spokesman would only say that her Facebook comments had ‘now been deleted.’ In her statement yesterday, Miss shawcroft said she was ‘deeply sorry’ for the way she handled a complaint against Labour activist alan bull, who posted a Facebook link to a fake news article titled: ‘International red Cross report confirms the Holocaust of six million Jews is a hoax.’
although she told Mr bull he needed anti-semitism training, she added: ‘alan certainly wasn’t sharing it because he agreed.’
Lord Winston, a leading scientist and TV presenter, told the bbC’s This Week show he was ‘deeply ashamed’ of the party.
He added: ‘Whether he likes it or not, Jeremy Corbyn has a lot to answer for. He has encouraged anti- semites and he’s endorsed them.
‘In the modern world using social media, their conspiracy theories about Jews and statements about hate, spread like a disease and this virus is infecting the Labour Party.’
In her own Passover message, the Prime Minister made no direct reference to the Labour crisis. but she said Jews had faced ‘ hatred, discrimination and violence’ for centuries. and in a pointed reference, she added: ‘It is a situation that continues to this day, including, I am sad to say, here in britain.’
Defending her beleaguered leader: Christine Shawcroft