A video showing a Labour shadow minister making antisemitic comments to a public meeting has been revealed despite the MP having denied he had done so last year.
The evidence, reported by the Guido Fawkes Westminster gossip blog on Wednesday, showed Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon say to members at a meeting in 2016 that “The enemy of the Palestinian people are Zionists and Zionism is the enemy of peace and the enemy of the Palestinian people.”
The initial allegations were reported last year by the Daily Mail, and when questioned about the report by the BBC’s Andrew Neil in March 2018, Mr Burgon repeatedly denied making the statement.
The Labour shadow minister said on the BBC’s flagship television news programme that he “didn’t say that”, “didn’t make those comments”, “wouldn’t have made those comments”, and said five times “that’s not my view”.
The head of Labour Friends of Israel, Jennifer Gerber, said Mr Burgon had “deployed half-denials and weasel words to escape responsibility for his appalling suggestion”.
When confronted with the footage from 2016, Mr Burgon said it was “now clear that I did [make those comments] and I regret doing so”, according to the BBC.
This episode is the latest in a long line of antisemitic incidents by Labour members. On one occasion, Labour invited an anti-Semite speaker, who had vandalised the Warsaw Ghetto years earlier, to speak at their party conference.
In another instance, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn compared Israel’s so-called ‘occupation of Palestinian territory’ to that of the Nazi occupation of Europe, stating that “in the West Bank [the people are] under occupation of the very sort that would be recognised by many people in Europe who suffered occupation during the Second World War.”
Jeremy Corbyn Concedes UK Labour May Have ‘Ignored’ Evidence of Anti-Semitism https://t.co/rqVpb0RssC
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 14, 2019
Labour has faced claims of institutional antisemitism issues for years now, with the Israel’s UN envoy saying that Mr Corbyn was “an anti-Semite who wants to return Britain to dark periods in history”.
Closer to home, Labour’s own supporters, the Jewish Labour Movement, recently held a vote of no confidence in Mr Corbyn over the rampant antisemitism in the party. The group voted to condemn the party as “institutionally antisemitic”.
Some Labour members do not seem to take the claims too seriously, however, with one local branch of the party reportedly saying there was too much focus on “anti-semitism this, anti-semitism that”. The comments came as they were asked by one representative to put out a statement condemning the recent Pittsburgh synagogue attack in which 11 people died.
A poll conducted by Survation for the Jewish Chronicle newspaper found last year that a staggering 85.9 per cent of UK Jews thought Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was antisemitic, with only 8.3 per cent believing that he was not. Meanwhile 39 per cent of the population as a whole are said to believe Mr Corbyn is antisemitic.