Labour adopted anti-Semitism rules to 'ease' Corbyn attacks, says Len McCluskey

Camilla Tominey
Unite boss Len McCluskey - PA

Labour only adopted the official definition of anti-semitism because it “eased attacks on Jeremy Corbyn”, Len McCluskey has claimed.

The Unite boss likened the antisemitism scandal that has engulfed Labour to the “Charge of the Light Brigade” and suggested it had bolstered the Palestinian cause during a speech at the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool.

Referring to Labour finally adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism after weeks of stalling, Mr McCluskey said: “I know this caused concerns amongst comrades on the left.  The truth was we were getting sucked almost like the charge of the Light Brigade with cannons to the right and left and in front of us sucked into a debate on our enemy’s territory.

“And it was important to make certain that the attacks on Jeremy were eased, so that we could continue the fight not only out there to our millions and millions of working class people who are desperate for a Labour government under Corbyn but in order to make certain that we had a genuine, ethical foreign policy going forward.”

Claiming that his close ally Corbyn would be vindicated in calling for examples of anti-semitism to be clarified, he added: “The time will come where people will say Jeremy Corbyn was right, because comrades if anybody believes for one moment that those examples are going to silence us from supporting the Palestinian cause, or going to silence us from calling Israel, what it is, an apartheid state, then they are very much mistaken.”

Mr McCluskey also told the packed-out event hosted by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC), of which Corbyn is a patron, that he welcomed the fact the scandal has raised awareness of the Palestinian cause.  “There is no doubt that there are those within our society and indeed around the world who would sooner not allow people to debate and discuss Palestine,” he told the 250-strong crowd gathered in his native city’s Hilton hotel.

“And if that was their particular goal then they have failed miserably because the truth is right across the summer when the anti-Semitism issue was being debated, the IHRA and its examples were being debated.  The truth of the matter is the issue of Palestine rose in people’s consciousness and that’s why I’m here.”

Describing Israel as an "apartheid state" he criticised Labour MP for being "quick to run to the right-wing press", which he accused of supporting Hitler and apartheid in South Africa.

Claiming that he had “physically” fought anti-semitism all his life, he added: “So I don’t need any lessons in fighting anti-Semitism especially from right-wing newspapers.  I’m told that the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph are here, good of you to identify yourselves.

"But I would just say remember these are the newspapers that supported South Africa, South Africa’s apartheid regime.

"Of course comrades the Daily Mail, the Daily Mail was a paper that supported Hitler and the fascists back in the 30s. The introduction of the nation state law, is nothing short of despicable and how shameful was it that those Labour MP’s quick to run to the right-wing media to have a go at Jeremy Corbyn."

The PSC's chairman Hugh Lanning, who chaired yesterday's event, was refused entry to Israel in 2017 after calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.