Jeremy Corbyn apologises for Labour anti-Semitism
Leader acknowledges scale of problem and vows to take action and rebuild trust with Jewish community
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has admitted for the first time the problem and scale of anti-Semitism within his party, as he looks to draw a line under the row that has dogged his leadership and threatens to harm his party at the ballot box.
Speaking before a much-anticipated meeting with Jewish leaders, the Labour leader also appeared to criticise elements of the Palestinian movement for anti-Semitism for the first time, “in one of the most significant breaks from his supporters”, says The Times.
In a sign that the recent row over anti-Semitism in the party risks harming its chances in next week’s local elections, Corbyn’s election campaign chief, Andrew Gwynne, reiterated his leader’s comments. He said Labour members must acknowledge that the party has an issue with anti-Semitism and work to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.
Writing in the London Evening Standard, Corbyn described anti-Semitism as a “poison that must be challenged wherever it raises its head” and admitted that while Labour has “a long and proud record of standing against anti-Semitism”, the party “must also face the uncomfortable fact that a small number of our members and supporters hold anti-Semitic views and attitudes, which need to be confronted and dealt with more rapidly and effectively”.
Claiming the party was already “taking action” and had suspended more than 20 individuals from party membership pending investigation, he also admitted Labour had “not done enough to get to grips with the problem” and said the Jewish community and Jewish party members deserved an apology.
While acknowledging that “acceptance of a problem is, of course, only the first step to achieving a solution”, the Standard’s editorial nevertheless said Corbyn’s admission that his party had failed to do enough to root out anti-Semitism within its ranks “amounts to a welcome recognition of the scale of a problem that, for too long, has cast an unfortunate cloud over Labour’s reputation”.