New UK Labour Leader Starmer Apologizes for Party’s Antisemitism Failings Under Corbyn
British Labour leader Keir Starmer on Thursday apologized for his party’s failure to deal with antisemitism in its ranks after an official report said it was responsible for unlawful harassment and discrimination.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found serious failings in the party’s leadership in addressing antisemitism, and an inadequate process for handling complaints, after launching an investigation into allegations made under the previous leadership of left-wing veteran Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn’s tenure was marred by persistent complaints of antisemitism in the party and criticism of the leader’s response.
Starmer said he accepted the report “in full” and would implement all its recommendations.
“It is a day of shame for the Labour Party. We have failed Jewish people… I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused,” said Starmer, who held a senior role under Corbyn’s leadership.
“Never again will we fail to tackle antisemitism and never again will we lose your trust.”
The EHRC said the Labour Party was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: political interference in antisemitism complaints; failure to provide proper training to handle the complaints and harassment.
“This is inexcusable and appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle antisemitism rather than an inability to do so,” Caroline Waters, interim chair of the EHRC, said.
Corbyn said antisemitism was “absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes.”
“As leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism,” he said, adding that he did not accept all the report’s findings and the scale of the problem had been overstated for political reasons.
The party, which governed Britain for 13 years from 1997 under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has sought to draw a line under the Corbyn era with the appointment of the country’s former public prosecutor Starmer.
Corbyn’s Labour was soundly beaten by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservatives in a December election, and Starmer is seeking to break with the past in time for the next election, scheduled for 2024.