Labour Must Automatically Expel Anti-Semites, Says Keir Starmer

Jasmin Gray
<strong>Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer </strong> (Photo: PA Ready News UK)
Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer  (Photo: PA Ready News UK)

Labour must change its rules and automatically expel members accused of anti-Semitism, Keir Starmer has argued.

The shadow Brexit secretary’s comments came as the party was braced for a BBC Panorama investigation into the party’s handling of the issue on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of the programme, Starmer said the party must take “decisive action” on anti-Semitism.

“Firstly, I would support a rule change that says you expel in clear cases of anti-Semitism automatically, just as we do for people who support another political party at an election,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today show.

“Secondly, be very clear – if you deny we’ve got a problem, that’s part of the problem.”

The frontbencher’s comments come just days after former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown also issued a call for automatic expulsions, saying the next Labour government must appoint a minister to fight anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, Starmer said Labour must “throw open the books” to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which is currently conducting a statutory investigation into the party’s anti-Semitism.

The EHRC probe is the first time a political party has been subjected to such an investigation since it ordered the BNP to stop discriminating against black people.

The party must say: “You’ve got access to anything, you have got access to any member of staff, we have made some process changes which have improved things but we have still got a problem, help us through this,” Starmer said.

<strong>Former Labour general secretary Lord Triesman </strong> (Photo: PA Wire/PA Images)
Former Labour general secretary Lord Triesman  (Photo: PA Wire/PA Images)

On Tuesday, three Labour peers – Lord Triesman, Lord Darzi and Lord Turnberg – resigned the party whip, saying Labour was no longer a “safe environment” for Jewish people because of anti-Semitism.

Triesman – who is Jewish and served as Labour general secretary under Tony Blair – wrote in his resignation letter: “Anti-Semites are shielded and solid serious party members are thrown out unceremoniously.

“And each new manifestation is followed by a grim parade of social media messages directed at Jewish party members. The experience of life in the party has become sickening.”

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.