Jeremy Corbyn is facing angry recriminations over his alleged failure to tackle anti-Semitism in the Labour Party after it lost out to the Tories in one of the most strongly Jewish boroughs in the country.
Defeated councillor Adam Langleban said the party had been “punished” by voters in Barnet, north London, over the refusal of the national leadership to face up to the issue.
He said Mr Corbyn did not even understand the problem and he called on the Labour leader to visit the borough to apologise to the local party.
Thanks to all those who voted for myself, Humayune and Agnes today. It was the greatest honour of my life to serve West Hendon.— Adam Langleben (@adamlangleben) May 4, 2018
We must NEVER have another election like this. No community group should have their vote dictated by their safety.
That should shame us @UKLabour.
Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice said Barnet should have been a “relatively easy plum” for Labour to pick.
On the night however, it was the Conservatives who were celebrating after snatching the council from no overall control.
There was a similar picture in the Kersal ward in Salford – another strongly Jewish area – where the Tories took the seat from the Labour incumbent.
Mr Langleben, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement national executive, said that in both areas the party had paid the price for not dealing with the anti-Semitism issue.
“For too many members of the Jewish community voting Labour yesterday was simply impossible, regardless of who the candidate was,” he told Sky News.
“In areas where there are high levels of Jewish population, we were punished and punished very badly by the voters.
“The message to us locally in Barnet is clear that Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership do not understand the problem, let alone have any attempt to deal with it.”
We have got a job to do which is to rebuild trust and confidence with the Jewish communityAndrew Gwynne
Despite recent criticisms by senior Jewish figures of Mr Corbyn over the issue, Mr Langleben said the Labour leader had been so confident they would take Barnet he had been planning to visit the borough on Saturday for a victory celebration.
“We hope that he will continue with his plans to come to Barnet tomorrow and actually start by making an apology to the Jewish community and the local Labour parties and the people of Barnet,” he said.
He added: “The Labour Party has a problem of conspiratorial anti-Semitism. There has got to be a process of expelling the people who propagate this.”
Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne acknowledged the party needed to do more to restore the confidence of the Jewish community.
“We have got a job to do which is to rebuild trust and confidence with the Jewish community,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“I see it as my job as Labour’s shadow communities secretary to help rebuild that trust with the Jewish community.
“There are so many Jewish people that do share Labour’s values, that do want to see a progressive, left-of-centre government supported by a progressive, left-of-centre group of councillors.
“We have got a job to do. That means that we have to tackle the issue of anti-Semitism.”
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson told the BBC: “There is no doubt the Jewish community have sent us a message in Barnet and I think we have to understand that.
“Clearly, when you have internal disciplinary matters that end up on the front pages and linger, it stops you trying to get your positive message of change over, and that is what happened in the last month.
“It was very difficult for us. You have seen Jeremy’s leadership on that. We have hired in a whole load of lawyers, we are implementing the Chakrabarti report, there are disciplinary procedures being implemented faster, quicker and deeper.
“I hope we can come back to Barnet in years to come and say `We have learnt our lesson and we have dealt with our own anti-Semitism problem’.”