Cor­byn ally at­tacks ‘racist’ Hodge pol­icy

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - EX­CLU­SIVE BY LEE HARPIN PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

Sun­day

A CLOSE ally of Jeremy Cor­byn has used a his­tory tour he or­gan­ises to launch a bit­ter at­tack on Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge.

David Rosenberg, spokesper­son for the Jewish So­cial­ist Group, was recorded dur­ing his tour al­leg­ing that Dame Margaret had pro­posed “a very racist hous­ing pol­icy” in an at­tempt to de­feat the far-right Bri­tish Na­tional Party in her Bark­ing con­stituency back in 2007.

Re­fer­ring to Dame Margaret’s re­cent com­ments in which she la­belled the Labour leader a “racist and an an­ti­semite”, Mr Rosenberg can be heard say­ing: “She should be a bit more care­ful the way she throws around terms like ‘racist’ and ‘an­ti­semite’, look­ing at her own record.”

But, speak­ing to the JC on Wed­nes­day, Dame Margaret, who is Jewish and lost fam­ily mem­bers in the Holo­caust, ac­cused Mr Cor­byn’s close friend of a “big­oted, bi­ased and I think li­bel­lous” at­tack on her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer.

The JC has learned that Mr Rosenberg, who ac­com­pa­nied Mr Cor­byn to the Passover Seder or­gan­ised by the an­tiZion­ist Jew­das group ear­lier this year, made his re­marks as he took a group of lead­ing Labour left-wingers on his “rad­i­cal East End tour” on Oc­to­ber 7. Lost rel­a­tives in Shoah: Hodge

Among those in the group was Thomas Gar­diner, an ad­viser to Labour chair Ian Lav­ery and the cur­rent head of the Party’s Com­pli­ance Unit which over­sees complaints against mem­bers.

Re­fer­ring to an ear­lier ar­ti­cle he had writ­ten for the Morn­ing Star news­pa­per “about Hodge be­ing very rude” to the Labour leader, Mr Rosenberg cited the Labour MP’s in­fa­mous strug­gle against the rise of the BNP lo­cally.

He told the group of Labour ac­tivists that Dame Margaret played a “big part” in the rise of the BNP in Bark­ing over a decade ago. Mr Rosenberg added: “And then once the BNP got in, her way of try­ing to get votes from those peo­ple was to pro­pose a very racist hous­ing pol­icy.

“It was in­dige­nous peo­ple first as she put it, mi­grants sec­ond, de­spite needs”.

But speak­ing to the JC, Dame Hodge said Mr Rosenberg’s at­tack on her was a “com­plete trav­esty of the truth”.

She added: “It was a grass­roots cam­paign to bring back dis­af­fected vot­ers to Labour and we smashed the BNP,” and in­sisted that she had de­lib­er­ately lis­tened the con­cerns of her con­stituents in Bark­ing over con­cerns that they were be­ing “treated un­fairly by peo­ple who had ar­rived more re­cently”.

Mr Rosenberg has mocked the Labour MPs Ruth Smeeth and Lu­ciana Berger about the an­tisemitic abuse they have re­ceived from within the party.

Dame Margaret also ques­tioned the ac­tions of those Jewish com­mu­nal lead­ers who have sug­gested there is an obli­ga­tion to work with Mr Cor­byn. “He is the leader of the leader of the Labour Party. The onus is on him to… try to re­build the re­la­tion­ship,” she said.

Mr Rosenberg said: “I did a 2.5 hour walk for young Labour mem­bers fo­cus­ing mainly on the fight against fas­cism in East Lon­don in the 1930s but also look­ing at more re­cent fas­cist ac­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially the mas­sive BNP gains in Bark­ing in 2006 which was chal­lenged ef­fec­tively by lo­cal Labour ac­tivists, trade union­ists and anti-fas­cist or­gan­i­sa­tions in 2010.

“In that con­text I made ref­er­ence to Margaret Hodge’s widely con­demned re­sponse to the BNP, which pro­posed a lo­cal hous­ing pol­icy fo­cussed on ‘in­dige­nous’ ‘Bri­tish born’ fam­i­lies over the needs of mi­grants. Her pol­icy was con­demned by other Labour MPs as ‘us­ing the lan­guage of the BNP’. The BNP tried to de­liver flow­ers to her to say thanks.”

PHOTO: PA

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