Labour lawmaker Baroness Dianne Hayter was stripped of her role in Britain’s main opposition party after she compared Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the anti-Semitism crisis to Hitler’s “bunker mentality” in the final days of the Nazi regime.
A party spokesperson quoted by UK media outlets said Thursday that Hayter was fired from her post as shadow Brexit minister “for her deeply offensive remarks about Jeremy Corbyn and his office.”
“To compare the Labour leader and Labour Party staff working to elect a Labour government to the Nazi regime is truly contemptible, and grossly insensitive to Jewish staff in particular,” he said.
Labour has grappled with anti-Semitism in its ranks since the far-left Corbyn was elected party chief in 2015, with fresh scrutiny coming after a number of former party officials accused him and his allies of interfering in efforts to address the issue, in a BBC program aired last week.
Hayter on Tuesday criticized the “bunker mentality” of Corbyn and his top aides in their handling of the anti-Semitism crisis within the party.
“Those of you who haven’t [read the book] will have seen the film ‘Bunker,’ about the last days of Hitler, where you stop receiving any information into the inner group which suggests that things are not going the way you want,” she told the Labour First group according to UK media reports.
“That seems to be where we are at the moment: having the leadership in a bunker so they are not hearing those views, that evidence, that is in conflict with what they are trying to do, to the extent that even undermines what they are trying to do,” she said.
Hayter, who will still remain in the elected position of deputy leader of the Labour lords, claimed during the Tuesday meeting that the opposition party refused to share its own anti-Semitism data with the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation.
“That declaiming of intelligence, the refusal to share is absolute symbol of the bunker mentality,” she charged.
Hayter’s firing came a day after more than 60 party members publicly accused Corbyn of overseeing a “toxic culture” of anti-Semitism in the party. The full-page ad in the Guardian newspaper accuses Corbyn of “allowing anti-Semitism to grow in our party and presiding over the most shaming period in Labour’s history.” It says he has “failed the test of leadership.”
And that newspaper ad came just two days after more than 200 current and former Labour staffers sent Corbyn a letter demanding he address the ongoing problem with anti-Semitism or step aside.
“The party’s response has been to smear Jewish victims, and former staff, accusing them of acting in bad faith,” they wrote. “The way the Party has threatened and denigrated these whistleblowers is appalling, hypocritical and a total betrayal of Labour’s core values.”
The letter said the crisis was of Corbyn’s making and that anti-Semitism had become institutionalized in the party and is now “worse than ever.”
Corbyn came under renewed pressure over anti-Semitism last week after a string of former officials spoke out about the party’s failure to tackle discrimination in a BBC documentary.
Former officials, including the main opposition’s former general secretary Iain McNicol, broke non-disclosure agreements to allege that members of Corbyn’s inner circle had interfered with investigations into anti-Semitism in the left-wing party.
Corbyn and the party have pushed back against the accusations made on BBC’s “Panorama” last Thursday, saying the documentary contained “deliberate and malicious representation” and that the whistleblowers had “personal and political axes to grind.”
Both he and Labour have repeatedly said they are committed to rooting anti-Semitism out of the party.
On Thursday, Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog wrote to Corbyn to express “distress and dismay” at the allegations of anti-Semitism within the party, and asked him to allow an external probe to make recommendations “to rid the party in the most unambiguous way of the scourge that is anti-Semitism.”
Herzog noted that during his time as head of Israel’s Labor party, he invited his British counterpart to visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.
“It is a shame you did not respond to this invitation,” Herzog writes.