A senior UK Conservative party member said Wednesday that if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn were to be elected British prime minister, he would be “the first anti-Semitic leader of a Western nation since the Second World War.”
Health Secretary Matthew Hancock, who is running to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May who resigned over her inability to carry through Brexit, made the comments in a meeting with party activists, warning them of the consequences of not picking the right leader.
“The Conservative party has to get this right. If we don’t, we could end up with the first anti-Semitic leader of a Western nation since the Second World War,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.
Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive surge in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead the party.
A senior Labour party leader called Hancock’s remarks “a disgrace,” while a Labour source told the Guardian that “this baseless political attack rings hollow,” and noted the Conservative party supported “governments that actively promote antisemitic policies in Hungary and Poland, and has spent the week wooing Trump – the man who refused to condemn neo-fascists in Charlottesville who chanted ‘Jews will not replace us’.”
Trump, who visited Britain this week, turned down a meeting with Corbyn — who delivered a fiery speech against Trump’s policies despite also requesting one-on-one talks — branding him a “somewhat negative force.”
Earlier this week former prime minister and long-time leader of Labour Tony Blair said that Corbyn is an anti-Semite who doesn’t know that he is one,
Blair, who was visiting Israel, said he no longer recognized the party he led from 1994 until 2007.
“To be frank, this anti-Semitism row, it’s a shameful thing,” said Blair, who was interviewed at a panel event at Bar Ilan University just outside Tel Aviv.
“If you told me, not merely back in May 1997, but at any point in the next 10 years, that the party I led for 13 years would have a problem with anti-Semitism, I would literally not have credited it, or believed it, and yet it is, and it’s there today,” said Blair.
The UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, a racism watchdog, announced last week it had launched a formal investigation into allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour.
“When I established [the EHRC], I never dreamed it would be investigating the Labour party,” Blair said.
Asked if he believed Corbyn himself was anti-Semitic, Blair said yes.
“Some of the remarks are not explicable in any other way, I’m afraid, and that is sad,” said Blair. “Does he think he is? No, he doesn’t think he is at all.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has accused Corbyn of encouraging anti-Semitic rhetoric and at times engaging in it, though he disputes the claim.
Corbyn has vowed to punish any party member caught making racist statements, yet he has defended a number of members who made vitriolic anti-Semitic remarks, and has expelled hardly any members despite more than 850 formal complaints. Last month he admitted in a secret recording that evidence of racism against Jews in his party may have been “mislaid, ignored or not used.”
Corbyn himself has drawn criticism for his actions. Last year he expressed regret for having defended a 2012 anti-Semitic mural in London’s East End. The mural, named Freedom of Humanity, was painted on a property near Brick Lane by the Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Kalen Ockerman. It depicted a group of men — seemingly caricatures of Jewish bankers and businessmen — counting their money on a Monopoly board balanced on the backs of naked workers.
In April, Corbyn was found to have authored a glowing foreword to a book that claims that Jews control global financial systems and describes them as “men of a single and peculiar race.”
In addition, the Hamas terror group has thanked Corbyn for his solidarity in recognizing Palestinian mourning over the 71st anniversary of the formation of the State of Israel.
The Labour leader has in the past been criticized for calling terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah “friends” when inviting members for a parliamentary meeting in 2009. He later downplayed the comment and said he regretted using the term.
Last year it emerged that in 2014 Corbyn attended a ceremony that honored the terrorists behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre. He later said, “I was present when [a wreath] was laid, I don’t think I was actually involved in it.”