Labour anti-semitism ‘impossible to stamp out’
ONE of Labour’s most senior figures last night admitted that it was “impossible” to stamp out anti-semitism in the party.
In comments that threatened to reignite the long-running feud with the Jewish community, Jennie Formby, the Labour general secretary, reportedly told MPS that she would not bend to their demands after they requested firmer action to tackle the issue.
According to insiders present at meeting of the parliamentary party last night, Ms Formby, a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, claimed that it was “impossible to eradicate anti-semitism and it would be dishonest to claim to be able to do so”. After MPS passed a motion demanding to know how many complaints of anti-semitism levelled against members remained unresolved, she was said to have told those present that she only answered to Labour’s National Executive Committee.
Last night Dame Margaret Hodge, a prominent Jewish MP, described the response as “absurd”, and warned Labour would not “rid the cancer of antisemitism” unless there was “complete transparency” over its disciplinary procedures.
Her comments were echoed by Wes Streeting, the Labour MP, who told The Daily Telegraph: “Failure to be transparent will not only fall short of the expectations we set of the Government, it will fuel further damage and distrust, not just among Britain’s Jews, but other decent-minded people who are horrified at what has happened in our party.”
It comes as The Daily Telegraph today reveals that 20 Labour activists investigated over anti-semitism claims were allowed to remain in or return to the party over the past four months.
They include complaints lodged against a prominent union leader and a university academic, whilst at least six members serving lengthy suspensions have also been reinstated.
The most controversial cases include a Labour activist who shared an online image of a Jobcentre sign containing the words “arbeit macht frei”, a reference to the Nazi slogan that still hangs from the gates of Auschwitz.
Marianne Tellier, the former secretary of Labour’s Park and Arbourthorne branch, told supporters that her suspension had been lifted, adding that in her dealings with the party there was “no mention of anti-semitism”.
Others were let off with formal warnings after directing abuse at MPS who spoke out against anti-semitism. They include Carolyn Marsden, a social media activist, who branded MP John Mann a “Zionist apologist of the highest order” and Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, a “pigface”.
A Labour spokesman said that the party “takes all complaints of anti-semitism extremely seriously” and added: “All complaints about anti-semitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
‘Failure to be transparent will ... fuel further damage and distrust, not just among ... Jews, but other decent minded people’