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Corbyn under fire from both sides over anti-Semitism row

Labour dismissed attacks against party leader Jeremy Corbyn as ‘baseless’ after Boris Johnson criticised him.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Jeremy Corbyn is “not cut out” to be a party leader, a senior Labour peer said as the party’s difficulties over the handling of anti-Semitism allegations continued.

Lord Harris of Haringey, chairman of the Labour Peers Group, suggested the party leader could have “reined back” members of his inner circle who reportedly intervened in disciplinary cases and also acted to control his “more idiotic supporters” engaged in abuse and intimidation.

Labour peers have offered to investigate allegations of anti-Semitism in the party, as they warned Mr Corbyn that without full openness it is “a cancer that will continue to grow”.

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Baroness Smith of Basildon (PA)

Baroness Smith of Basildon, the shadow leader of the Lords, was among signatories to a letter to Mr Corbyn in which the Labour Peers Group offered to establish a small panel to review the substance of allegations made in last week’s Panorama programme.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Lord Harris said: “There’s no question that in any organisation the moral tone that it sets, the style that it operates in is set from the top – that’s what leadership is all about.

“So obviously Jeremy Corbyn has got a huge responsibility in this. He could have reined back some of his more idiotic supporters and stopped them doing some of the things they are doing – the intimidation of members, the extraordinary discriminatory remark; he could have reined back the people in his office who have been apparently interfering in cases of discipline within the party.”

He added: “The concern that I have – and I have known Jeremy Corbyn for 47 years – is that he is not cut out to be a party leader.

“He is a brilliant campaigner and yet I suspect the details, the managerial responsibilities, the day-to-day management of the way in which the party operates are not necessarily his skills.”

The peer’s comments came after Tory leadership hopefuls Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt suggested Mr Corbyn may be anti-Semitic – a claim described as a “baseless political attack” by Labour.

The Tory leadership candidates were both asked whether they thought the Labour leader is personally anti-Semitic in the wake of a damning report by BBC Panorama into the party’s handling of allegations of anti-Semitism.

Mr Johnson said: “I think by condoning anti-Semitism in the way he does, I am afraid he is effectively culpable of that vice.”

Asked the same question at the event hosted by The Sun and talkRadio, Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt replied: “Unfortunately, he may be.”

A Labour spokesman said: “Jeremy Corbyn is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism in all its forms and has campaigned against it throughout his life.

“This baseless political attack comes from a politician whose Islamophobic comments were directly linked to hate crimes targeted at Muslim women, approved an article that claimed black people have lower IQs and tonight refused to apologise for describing gay men as ‘tank-topped bum boys’.”

Labour has been rocked by a Panorama programme which claimed that senior figures, including Jeremy Corbyn’s communications chief Seumas Milne and general secretary Jennie Formby, had interfered in anti-Semitism investigations.

Labour has denied the claims and written a complaint to the BBC.

The shadow cabinet is expected to meet on Monday July 22 to discuss anti-Semitism, a source told PA.

Mr Corbyn is due to address the a potentially explosive gathering of the Parliamentary Labour Party after the special meeting.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that more than 200 former and current Labour staffers have written to Mr Corbyn asking for more support for whistleblowers.

And it said Labour staffers in the GMB union have submitted a motion for discussion at their branch meeting which calls for an apology for the party’s response.

Mr Corbyn is understood to have spoken to staff at the party’s headquarters in central London on Monday.

PA

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