70 Current and Ex-Labour Staff Give Testimony to Party Antisemitism Investigation

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 26: Protesters hold placards as they demonstrate in Parliament Square against anti-Semitism in the Labour Party on March 26, 2018 in London, England. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council have drawn up a letter accusing Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn of …
Jack Taylor/Getty

Seventy current and ex-Labour staffers have given testimony to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party.

The sworn statements form part of a submission by the Jewish Labour Movement seen by the BBC.

The EHRC announced that it was going to open an investigation in May into whether the party, led by far-leftist Jeremy Corbyn, had “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed, or victimised people because they are Jewish”.

The Jewish Labour Movement, which has been affiliated with the party for a century, has asked the commission to look into Labour’s handling of antisemitism investigations.

In recordings uncovered in April 2019, Mr Corbyn was heard to have admitted that evidence of antisemitism handed to the party may have been “mislaid, ignored or not used”.

The JLM submission says antisemitism in the party has become “pervasive”. The group wants Labour to admit it is “institutionally antisemitic” and that it must reform.

Details of the allegations in the submission seen by The Guardian include victims of antisemitic abuse. One individual detailed that they had experienced 22 incidents online from Labour members and in person at party meetings. Some of the abuse included being called “Zio scum”, a “Tory Jew”, a “child killer”, and being told that “Hitler was right”.

The submission also alleges Corbyn’s office interfered in antisemitism disciplinary processes, saying it was a “frequent occurrence” for staff from the leader’s office to ask to see copies of complaints and to give recommendations on disciplinary actions.

Jeremy Corbyn denied the accusations, saying: “I do not interfere with cases and… it is an independent process.”

The 70-year-old socialist added: “I deeply regret that there is any antisemitism within our society and obviously I regret the way in which some people have been hurt by it.”

The report comes as a former Labour minister told Labour voters to vote Conservative in the December 12th election to “say no to antisemitism”.

Ivan Lewis quit the Labour Party last year over the party’s handling of antisemitism, saying he could  “no longer reconcile my Jewish identity and current Labour politics”.

The now-independent MP said in a statement: “At last week’s hustings for the Jewish Community, a Kindertransport survivor and long-standing supporter asked me in view of the threat posed by Corbyn to support the Conservative candidate in Bury South…

“In this election, I have spoken to many Bury South voters who have told me the priority for our local community and country is to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

“As the independent candidate, I am grateful for the support I have received but it is now clear that the best way to stop Corbyn in Bury South is to vote Conservative and support their candidate Christian Wakeford.

“So today, I’m asking the thousands of voters in Bury South who don’t think Corbyn is fit to be Prime Minister to vote Conservative. Many will be voting Conservative for the first time and it will require much soul searching. But it is the right thing to do.”

Mr Lewis is the third former Labour minister, after Tom Harris and Ian Austin, to tell traditionally left-wing voters to back Boris Johnson.

Last month, Mr Austin had told “decent, patriotic” Labour supporters to vote Tory because Corbyn was “unfit to lead the country”.

At the end of November, the UK’s chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said that Corbyn was “unfit for office” over his handling of antisemitism in Labour since he took over the party.

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