The British left remains at war with itself over the massive anti-Semitism scandal dogging the official opposition party, as former Labour prime minister Tony Blair once again appeared to direct his fire at hard-left successor Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Anti-Semitism has rapidly risen from being a fringe issue in British politics, in most cases a dangerous relic of 20th-century politics abandoned by serious parties, to a major concern within the Labour Party in a matter of just a few years.
The Prime Minister and the four living former Prime Ministers – Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron – give their full backing to the new National Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre @10DowningStreet @UKHMF pic.twitter.com/59EtreDClO
— Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Govt (@mhclg) May 7, 2019
Tony Blair, the long-serving Labour prime minister whose “centre-left” style of politics has moulded every British administration since — especially the premiership of the nominally conservative David Cameron — has been an outspoken critic of the party which he once led over its recent track record on anti-Semitism under Jeremy Corbyn.
In just his latest comments on the resurgence of the problem in British politics, Blair said: “…antisemitism and hate did not end in 1945. Unfortunately today some of this poison is back from the political fringe to parts of the political mainstream.”
London’s The Times reports the comments are interpreted as being directed at the party he once led. They follow other remarks which, at times, have been even more direct — in 2018 Blair spoke on Israeli television and told Labour that it must take action to end the anti-Semitism crisis which has gripped it during the tenure of hard-left party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Blair: ‘I’ll Do Everything I Can to Stop Brexit’ https://t.co/l3uDf8UYXd
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 8, 2018
He said then: “I’m extremely sad about it, and anxious about it, and also very determined that the Labour Party should take the action necessary to root out anti-Semitism completely, totally. There should be zero tolerance towards it.
“It’s one of these things that if you allow it to take root at all within a political party, it’s hard then to uproot it… This is a situation, frankly, I could not even have imagined when I was leader of the Labour Party.”
In 2019, Blair identified a “nascent alliance” between political Islam and the British and European left as a cause of the return of anti-Semitism. He told British television: “There is, I’m afraid, there is a kind of nascent alliance between what I would call bits of the sort of Islamist type of politics and the left.”
UK Opposition Leader Corbyn Makes Simon Wiesenthal Anti-Semitism List https://t.co/k5j6dyiAS3
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 28, 2018
“It’s not your old traditional anti-Semitism of the old kind of right-wing nature of, you know, not wanting Jewish people in golf clubs and that type of thing, but it’s every bit as pernicious and, you know, to have a situation where you’ve got Labour MPs worried because they happen to be Jewish,” he added.
The anti-Semitism crisis within Labour has become so pronounced, Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has been picked out as a top concern by the Simon Wiesenthal Holocaust memorial centre, and several Labour Members of Parliament walked out of the party earlier this year to form a new splinter party of their own. As well as citing Labour’s handling of Brexit, many of those breaking away also raised serious concerns over anti-Semitism in the party, explaining this was why they could no longer remain in Labour under Corbyn.
Ninth Labour MP Quits ‘Broken’ Party Over ‘Culture of Anti-Semitism’ https://t.co/6WlheZF5oG
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 22, 2019
Tuesday’s comments by Blair came as part of the soft-launch of the government’s initiative to build a Holocaust memorial and education centre in Westminster. “It is absolutely right this new national memorial is situated right next to Parliament, so we can show what happens when racism and prejudice goes unchecked.”
The memorial is also backed by Prime Minister Theresa May, former prime ministers Gordon Brown, John Major, and David Cameron.
While the project has cross-party support, there have been some expressions of concern about the stark, modernist design, which would be built on a park directly adjacent to the British Houses of Parliament. The Architect’s’ Journal reported in February that the UNESCO adviser on world heritage sites objected to the substantial design intended for Victoria Tower Gardens which they claimed would “dominate” the listed site and interrupt historic views of the world-renowned Gothic Revival Palace.
The Journal also reported concerns by the Royal Parks charity which owns the land earmarked for development into the memorial, noting they: “…argued the site was not an ‘appropriate location’ for the project given the impact it will have on a public amenity space in an area of London with few green spaces.”
Labour MP Condemns Party Where ‘Anti-Semitism Is More than Tolerated’ https://t.co/MoyvNCRYWn
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 31, 2018