Labour does not have anti-Semitism problem – Len McCluskey
His comments came hours after Labour’s conference voted to ensure members can be expelled for voicing anti-Semitic views.
Union leader Len McCluskey has denied that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism.
Mr McCluskey said that allegations of anti-Jewish sentiment within the party was “mood music” created by those who wanted to remove Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
However he was challenged by shadow cabinet member Baroness Chakrabarti, who carried out an investigation into anti-Semitism in Labour and said: “I have seen things which Len hasn’t seen.”
His comments came hours after Labour’s conference in Brighton voted to ensure that members can be expelled for voicing anti-Semitic views. The vote followed a row over a fringe meeting at the conference in which one participant suggested that the principle of free speech should protect Holocaust denial.
But Mr Corbyn himself insisted that any anti-Semitic language was “completely at odds with the beliefs of this party”.
Asked if he accepted that Labour had an anti-Semitism problem, Mr McCluskey told BBC2’s Newsnight: “I’ve never recognised that. I believe it was mood music that was created by people trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. In 47 years of membership of the Labour Party, I’ve never been at a meeting where there was any anti-Semitic language or any attacks on the Jews. They would have had short shrift in any meeting I was at.”
Offering his explanation for the rash of complaints of anti-Semitism after Mr Corbyn was elected leader, Mr McCluskey said: “Unfortunately, at the time there were lots of people playing games. Everybody wanted to create this image that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour had become misogynistic and anti-Semitic because they wanted to bring Jeremy Corbyn down.”
But Lady Chakrabarti told the programme that Mr McCluskey was wrong.
“With the greatest of respect to Len, I was the person charged with investigating this. It wasn’t Len,” she said. “I have seen things which Len hasn’t seen. I would ask Len to read my report.
“There are real reasons why someone like Len may not have experienced racism and anti-Semitism. There is an obvious reason why he may not have experienced it. I was charged with investigating by Jeremy and the National Executive and I set out my findings, warts and all.”
Lady Chakrabarti said she welcomed the 96% vote in favour of implementing her report’s recommendation in Tuesday’s vote.