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November 18, 2020 11:28 am

UK Jews Welcome Labour Chief Starmer’s Move to Not Seat Corbyn in Parliament, but Demand More Action Against Antisemitism

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Ex-UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Reuters / Tom Nicholson.

Top UK Jewish groups praised Labour Party leader Keir Starmer’s decision on Wednesday to prevent his disgraced predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, from being seated as a Labour MP after his suspension from the party was lifted a day earlier.

Corbyn had been suspended last month as a result of comments he made against the findings of an Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into antisemitism in Labour during his time in charge, from September 2015 until this past April.

He was reinstated by Labour’s national executive committee on Tuesday. However, Starmer chose on Wednesday to “withhold the whip” from Corbyn, a term in British politics for preventing an MP from being seated with party’s delegation.

Board of Deputies of British Jews President Marie van der Zyl commented, “We welcome Keir Starmer’s decision to withhold the whip from Jeremy Corbyn. Despite the EHRC’s finding that the party had acted unlawfully under Mr. Corbyn’s watch, Jeremy Corbyn’s initial reaction to the report was dismissive and he has been shameless and remorseless for what he has put the Jewish community through.”

“Meanwhile, Labour’s disciplinary process is clearly still not fit for purpose,” she added. “Keir Starmer has now taken the appropriate leadership decision not to restore the whip to Jeremy Corbyn. We continue to say that ‘zero tolerance’ must mean precisely that, whether for antisemites or their apologists.”

Fiona Sharpe, spokesperson for Labour Against Antisemitism, also praised the decision, calling it “a welcome gesture.”

“However, it must not be used to obscure the disgraceful events of the last 24 hours or the calamity of institutional antisemitism in the Labour Party,” she noted.

“Less than three weeks on from the publication of the damning EHRC report into anti-Jewish racism in the Labour Party, the Jewish community has again been ignored and failed,” Sharpe asserted.

“Until an independent complaints process is introduced, and all historical cases of antisemitism from 2015 onwards are reviewed in full, the Labour Party will not be a safe space for British Jews,” she concluded.

The UK-based Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) was less impressed, with CEO Gideon Falter saying, “Withholding the whip from Jeremy Corbyn is offering the Jewish community crumbs.”

“The EHRC ruled that Labour’s disciplinary processes were unfit but Sir Keir allowed Mr. Corbyn to be tried under them,” he pointed out. “Not only that, but Mr. Corbyn should never have been suspended merely for his response to the EHRC’s damning report, but for the responsibility he bears for the Labour Party being found guilty of committing unlawful acts of antisemitism by the EHRC.”

“Sir Keir needs to get a grip of his party and ensure that Mr. Corbyn is held to account for what he did to Britain’s Jews,” Falter demanded.

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