In Call With Jewish Leaders, UK Labour Chief Vows to ‘Wash Clean the Stain of Antisemitism From Our Party’
UK Labour party leader Keir Starmer held a video meeting on Friday with representatives of several top British Jewish groups.
Afterward, Starmer stated, “I am in no doubt that it will take time to rebuild trust between the Jewish community and the Labour party. Some of the problems will not be fixed overnight. But I was pleased to update the meeting today on the work which has already taken place since we last met. We are beginning to wash clean the stain of antisemitism from our party.”
“At today’s meeting,” he added, “I also emphasized that it is not enough for the Labour party to have an effective system for dealing with antisemitism. I want to lead a party without any antisemitism, full stop.”
Under Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, Labour was plagued by antisemitism scandals, some involving Corbyn himself.
Starmer replaced Corbyn in April, in the aftermath of Labour’s resounding electoral defeat last December.
Speaking on behalf of the Jewish delegation that took part in Friday’s meeting, Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jonathan Goldstein, chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Gerald Ronson CBE, chair of the Community Security Trust and Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, stated:
“We were grateful to Keir Starmer for making the time for today’s meeting. We began the meeting with a discussion of the current coronavirus crisis and an expression of our solidarity with black people in the face of the reminders of their experience of racism on both sides of the Atlantic.”
“We then moved on to consider the progress that had been made on tackling antisemitism since Sir Keir’s election as leader and our first meeting with him a few days after that,” the Jewish leaders added. “There was broad agreement that things are moving in the right direction, albeit with a long way still to go due to the scale of the mess that Sir Keir inherited.”
They called on Starmer to “take a tough line with MPs, senior Labour figures and other members who still trade in the tropes and behaviours of the last few years; continue to make strenuous efforts to detoxify the culture of the party in relation to the Jewish community, including the accusation that antisemitism was falsely used by Jews to smear the former leadership; publish the documents relevant to EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] inquiry at the earliest opportunity that he is able after it is released; and proceed with all due haste to the implementation of his pledge to implement an independent disciplinary process, beyond the reach of factional considerations.”
“Overall, we give credit where credit is due and thank Sir Keir for the progress made so far, and hope to be able to reflect on further advances in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour party at our next meeting in October,” the statement concluded.