Labour has failed to 'win the faith of the Jewish community' on anti-Semitism, Corbyn ally admits

Harry Yorke
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, has admitted that Labour must do more to “restore faith” among British Jews - Copyright ©Heathcliff O'Malley , All Rights Reserved, not to be published in any format without prior permission from copyright holder.

Labour has failed to “win the faith of the Jewish community" or its own MPs on anti-Semitism, one of Jeremy Corbyn's closest allies has said.

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, has admitted that Labour must do more to “restore faith” among British Jews, adding that the party had been forced to start from a “very, very dark place” due to the actions of a “minority” of members.

Amid a growing backlash over Labour’s refusal to endorse an internationally recognised definition of anti-Semitism, Ms Bailey said the party would look again at its new code of conduct, admitting they had failed to “deal with it quickly”.

It comes days after Labour's governing body, the national executive committee, failed to include within its new code of conduct the full definition of anti-Semitism - including illustrative examples - set out by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

The decision has triggered a backlash from the Chief Rabbi and Jewish leaders from around the country, whilst the Jewish Labour Movement has threatened to initiate legal proceedings against the party under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Labour and anti-Semitism | Read more

Ms Bailey’s intervention will be seen as an attempt to head off a row on Monday night, when MPs gather for a meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party, during which critics of Mr Corbyn are expected to again hit out at the leadership.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Ms Bailey said that she recognised the concerns of Jewish leaders and backbench MPs, adding: “We wanted to develop a code that was legally robust and detailed so that we could enforce it quickly in our disciplinary processes.

"But we haven't won the faith of the Jewish community, and indeed my own parliamentary colleagues have expressed concern.The intention was never to omit parts of the IHRA definition.

“We recognise the concerns and that's why this week it was right for the NEC to look at the code again and look at consulting with the Jewish community to make sure we get it right because we have to restore faith in the Jewish community.”

However, in comments that appear to undermine Mr Corbyn’s office, Ms Bailey said it was  "not wrong" for Dame Margaret Hodge, a veteran Jewish MP, to have confronted the leader about anti-Semitism.

IHRA working definition | Anti-Semitism

Dame Margaret, whose relatives were murdered during the Holocaust, was threatened with disciplinary action last week after labelling Mr Corbyn an “anti-Semite” in a furious tirade in Parliament.

The exchange, witnessed by a number of MPs, saw her rebuked by Mr Corbyn’s spokesman, who said the remarks were “clearly unacceptable” and would result in action being taken.

But when asked about Dame Margaret’s comments yesterday, Ms Bailey it was necessarily “wrong” for her to make her feelings known to Mr Corbyn.

“What we do say within the party is that we treat colleagues with respect,” she continued. “But that is not to say that it is wrong for you know Margaret, if she did you know state those things to Jeremy, to express her opinion, it is right to express your opinion to the leader of the party.

“It is not wrong for a colleague within the Labour party to express concerns to another colleague, it just has to be done in the appropriate way.”

Separately, Liz Kendall, a former leadership rival of Mr Corbyn’s described the party’s decision not to adopt all of the IHRA definition as a “catastrophic disaster.”

Anti-semitism puff

“I think it is a shameful position for a party that has had a long and proud tradition of tackling anti-semitism,” she added.

Established in 2016, the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been adopted in full by governments and public bodies across the world.

In Britain, the UK and Scottish Parliaments, the Welsh Assembly, Crown Prosecution Service, and 124 local authorities have all signed up to it.