MP’s institutional racism claim overshadows Corbyn message
JEREMY CORBYN said Labour would tackle the “social cancer” of antisemitism in his Rosh Hashanah greeting.
But hours earlier a senior MP accused the party of being “institutionally racist”.
The Labour leader acknowledged it was a “difficult time” for Britain’s Jews, and reiterated his promise to tackle hatred within the party.
But the row over the Labour response to the issue and the divisions among the party’s MPs over his leadership continued to simmer.
Former frontbencher Chuka Umunna made the claim that Labour was institutionally racist as a result of the antisemitism row.
Chuka Umunna He said it was a “very painful” admission, but vowed to stay on as a Labour member because he felt it was better to “try to argue and see change through in an organisation” rather than “leave the field”.
He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “If you look at the definition of institutional racism as outlined by Sir William Macpherson in the Macpherson Report and the Macpherson Inquiry produced the institutional racism definitiom — the Labour Party, it’s beyond doubt for me that it has met it.
“It’s very painful for me to say that.
“Part of the reason that I joined the Labour Party, my party, my family started supporting the party, was because it was an anti-racist party and I think the failure to deal with the racism that is antisemitism is particular and clearly is a problem.” In his Rosh Hashanah message, Mr Corbyn said: “I would like to reiterate that the Labour Party stands in solidarity with the Jewish community in the fight against antisemitism.
“We will work to eradicate the social cancer of antisemitism wherever is surfaces, including in our own party.”
Streatham MP Mr Umunna made his comments after being urged to apologise for saying Mr Corbyn should “call off the dogs” to stop centre-left MPs being driven out of the party.
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery told Sky News that Mr Umunna’s call was “disrespectful” and “offensive”.
He said: “Calling anybody a dog is absolutely outrageous in the extreme, and Chuka Umunna of all people should know that.
“These are the people who keep Chuka Umunna and myself and other MPs in a job.”
Mr Umunna defended his remarks, saying: “The phrase that I used is a metaphor, it’s a figure of speech.”