Jeremy Corbyn suspended from Labour party over antisemitism, challenges decision
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the party following a report on his handling of antisemitism, but has vowed to challenge the decision.
The Member of Parliament for Islington North and has had the whip removed by current party leader Sir Keir Starmer in light of a recent report on antisemitism by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
A party spokesman said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation. He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
The EHRC report has found Labour responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination over antisemitism but the former Labour leader said he had been obstructed by party officials in trying to tackle the issue.
Although the report does not lay blame directly with the former Labour leader, the EHRC’s lead investigator Alasdair Henderson said the failure of leadership must ultimately stop with him.
While Corbyn expressed regrets that “it took longer to deliver that change than it should”, he has rejected the overall conclusions of the report on antisemitism in Labour, saying the number of complaints made during his tenure were “dramatically overstated”.
I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me.
I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.
I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) October 29, 2020
Responding to his suspension, he wrote on Twitter: “I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me. I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an antisemitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong. I will continue to support a zero tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”
In an earlier statement, Corbyn said: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.
“That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated. My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
Responding to these comments, Starmer said: “If – after all the pain, all the grief, and all the evidence in this report – there are still those who think there’s no problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, that it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack, then, frankly, you are part of the problem too.
“And you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.”
The EHRC launched its inquiry after complaints about antisemitism within Labour during Corbyn’s time as leader. The report cites “serious failings in the Labour party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints”.
Corbyn said that when he took over as Labour leader in 2015, “the party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose”, adding “Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy.”
“Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour party is wrong,” he said.
“Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left. Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.”
Reacting to the news, Harriet Harman MP, who chairs the Joint Committee on Human Rights, tweeted:
“This is the right thing to do. If you say that antisemitism exaggerated for factional reasons you minimise it and are, as Keir Starmer says, part of the problem.”
Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, also welcomed the Corbyn’s suspension, saying: “We welcome the decision of the Labour Party to suspend Jeremy Corbyn.
She added: “Having presided over the descent of a proudly anti-racist party into a party that broke equalities law in its treatment of Jews, his shameless comments today showed that he remains part of the problem and is an obstruction to the resolution of the issue.”
Meanwhile, the hashtag #IStandWithCorbyn began trending on social media as soon as news of the parliamentarian’s suspension broke, and supporters of Corbyn have launched a crowdfunder to help the 71-year-old with his legal fund to challenge the party’s decision.
The online fundraising page was originally set up by Carole Morgan with a target of £20,000 to help Corbyn defend himself against BBC Panorama reporter John Ware, who is taking libel action against the former Labour leader, but had raised over £339,000 since the MP’s suspension was announced.