The Jewish Chronicle
Corbyn to hold emergency meeting
JEREMY CORBYN has agreed to hold an emergency meeting of his shadow cabinet next Monday to discuss the crisis over antisemitism amid rising concerns about the impact of the row on Labour’s own staff.
It is the first time the Labour leader has agreed to discuss the issue of antisemitism with his senior MPs — as pressure mounted on Mr Corbyn from party staff, peers and the GMB trade union.
Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) chair John Cryer confirmed Mr Corbyn had agreed to meet his top team after addressing MPs at their weekly meeting in Westminster.
Mr Cryer told the PLP: “We have got racists in the party and they are not being dealt with.”
Labour MPs had hoped to raise concerns about the BBC Panorama documentary aired last week on antisemitism with the Labour leader this week — but he has confirmed he will attend their next PLP meeting on top of the emergency meeting with the shadow cabinet.
The JC spoke with numerous Labour MPs who were furious over both the issues raised in Panorama and the revelation that over-worked party staff had been left demoralised by the leadership’s failure to tackle anti-Jewish racism.
Siobhan McDonagh, MP for Mitcham and Morden, told the meeting she stood in full solidarity with Labour’s former head of complaints, Sam Matthews, who was one of the main whistleblowers in the Panorama documentary.
Mr Matthews was among those threatened with a gagging order by party officials, even though he revealed he had contemplated suicide as a result of the stress that came from dealing with antisemitism cases.
Ms McDonagh fumed: “The party of the workers? Don’t make sick.”
Addressing the meeting,
Outraged: McDonagh ise Ellman said the leadership’s response to the programme had been “shameful”.
She also expressed fury that Labour had appointed Jewish Voice for Labour member Heather Mendick, who has repeatedly downplayed antisemitism claims, to a new role aimed at fixing relations with the Jewish community. Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer also told MPs he wanted details of how antisemitism complaints were handled by the leadership to be made available.
He said: “Throw open the books, open the files to any member of staff. We cannot circle the wagons.”
MPs’ anger boiled over at the PLP meeting just a few hours after an attack on Mr Corbyn and the Labour leadership by the party’s four most senior peers in the House of Lords.
Labour’s leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith of Basildon, wrote to Mr Corbyn offering to review the substance of allegations made in last week’s Panorama programme.
After the PLP meeting, Labour MPs told the JC they had been emailed by Mr Corbyn’s office before last Wednesday’s Panorama was aired to say the leader had not yet watched the show.
Yet despite not having seen what was in the film or what the whistleblowers had said, party officials issued a damning attack on the exLabour staff who had spoken in it — accusing them of being “disaffected” and “having an axe to grind”.
One MP added: “I don’t want to just blame Corbyn — I want to blame all of the leadership team.
“They are a shambles taking us from one crisis to the next.”
The party of the workers? Don’t make me sick’