Senior UK Labour party lawmakers ‘exasperated’ at handling of anti-Semitism

Corbyn ally says independent review system should be set up if necessary; leading MP says party must ‘get a grip and quick’ if it doesn’t want to lose next election

UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his house in north London, on June 12, 2019. (Isabel Infantes/AFP)
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaves his house in north London, on June 12, 2019. (Isabel Infantes/AFP)

A senior lawmaker of the UK Labour Party said Friday that she, along with other members of the shadow cabinet, are frustrated at the party’s failure to properly address anti-Semitism within its ranks and suggested that an independent system may be necessary to handle the matter.

Labour has been split apart by claims that the party has become hostile to Jews under the far-left leader MP Jeremy Corbyn, a harsh Israel critic and longtime supporter of the Palestinian cause.

Shadow Education Secretary MP Angela Rayner, considered to be an ally of Corbyn, said that her fellow shadow cabinet members — the Labour body charged with presenting the party’s policies on current events — are “totally exasperated by the failure of our movement to be able to deal with this issue,” The Guardian newspaper reported Saturday.

Speaking at a conference of the Fabian Society, a century-old democratic socialist reform movement affiliated with the Labour party, Rayner said she is “absolutely embarrassed by what’s happened over the last few days and I’ve made my representations very clear. If that means setting up an independent system, then so be it… let’s just get on and do it.”

More criticism came from Labour frontbencher MP Clive Lewis who told The Observer newspaper that Labour needs “to get a grip and quick,” on a range of issues to prevent the party from losing the next election.

Another senior lawmaker from the party told the newspaper that Labour had lost over 100,000 members since its peak in 2016, and was now in financial difficulty.

“The membership has dropped to around 400,000 [from more than half a million] and we are losing money,” the anonymous MP said. “We are not in a fit state to fight an election which I think we are heading towards.”

The remarks came after Labour reimposed the suspension of a lawmaker on Friday, just two days after it was lifted amid an ongoing furor over remarks he made about the party’s response to anti-Semitism.

Last Wednesday Chris Williamson, a Corbyn ally, was reinstated after being suspended pending an ethics review but the decision was then reversed following wide protest, including from within the Labour party.

Some 90 senior members of the Party have urged its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, to expel Williamson who was filmed in February telling a meeting that the party was “too apologetic” and had “given too much ground” in its response to anti-Semitism allegations.

Since his election in 2015 to head Labour, Corbyn has fought allegations that his critical attitude toward Israel and alleged tolerance of anti-Semitism have injected Jew-hatred into the heart of the party.

In 2009, Corbyn called Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and said that Hamas is working to achieve peace and justice. In 2013, he defended an anti-Semitic mural. In 2014, he laid flowers on the graves of Palestinian terrorists who murdered Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972. The following year he said British “Zionists” don’t understand British irony.

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