Labour Party Could Expel ‘Thousands’ of Members for Anti-Semitism

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 Images

The deputy leader of the British Labour Party, Angela Rayner, has threatened that thousands of members could be expelled from the party an effort to purge anti-Semitism from their ranks.

On Sunday, Mrs Rayner told members of the party that Labour has to “get real” about anti-Semitism after a Jewish member was forced to leave a constituency party meeting in Nottingham due to a “hostile” environment as some pushed for a restoration of the whip to former leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In response to the incident, the deputy leader said per Sky News: “We should have a bit of humility, humbleness, and we should be listening and we should be aware of how hurt and upset people are.”

“And if I have to suspend thousands and thousands of members, we will do that. Because we cannot and we will not accept an injury to one, because an injury to one is an injury to all. That’s what we say in our movement,” Rayner warned.

In October, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a report on antisemitism, which found that the Labour Party was responsible for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish people under the leadership of radical socialist Jeremey Corbyn.

Mr Corbyn rejected the findings of the report, claiming that the issue of anti-Semitism issue within the party was “dramatically overstated for political reasons”. As a result of his refusal to accept blame or apologise, Corbyn was suspended by the party.

While he was later reinstated, Corbyn’s replacement as leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has refused to restore the whip to him in parliament, meaning he cannot sit as a Labour MP.

Mrs Rayner said that she “knew” that Corbyn would refuse to accept the report, saying: “Because I don’t think Jeremy really quite gets how upsetting it is, how really upsetting it is when he made those comments.”

“It is a matter of public record now that I contacted Jeremy to try and get him not to say what he said, and to apologise and withdraw it afterwards,” she said.

Sir Keir Starmer has also taken aim at the former far-left leader of the party, describing Corbyn’s response to the EHRC report as “just about as bad as you could get”.

“We’ve got this very wrong in recent years and I’m determined we’re going to turn this around,” he said, adding: “I’ve made it my number one priority and I think we made some progress in the early months.”

The latest dust-up over the anti-Semitism issue came in response to a Constituency Labour Party (CLP) meeting in Nottingham last Friday, in which the chair of the meeting, Louise Regan, allowed a motion to restore the whip to Mr Corbyn to be tabled, in violation of the party’s rules.

A local Jewish constituent present at the meeting, Steve Lapsley, 50, said that the environment was so “hostile” against him that he was forced to leave.

Lapsley told the members during the meeting that he had previously been told by another party member “we do not want Jews in the party”, yet claimed that a witness to incident denied that there was anti-Semitism in the party on Friday.

“It was very triggering. The suspension of Jeremy Corbyn has really upped the anger,” he said but went on to proclaim that despite everything, he will remain in the Labour Party.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here: @KurtZindulka


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.