Labour faces crunch meeting on anti-Semitism rules
Jeremy Corbyn called for debate to be delayed until the autumn.
Jeremy Corbyn is facing a major showdown over Labour policy on anti-Semitism.
A meeting of Labour MPs and peers is set to debate an emergency call to toughen up rules against projecting prejudice, despite a call from the party leader to delay the debate until the autumn.
After complaints that a new code of conduct did not go far enough, a gathering of the Parliamentary Labour Party on Monday will consider adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
Extraordinary degree of support for Dame Margaret Hodge among Labour MPs after a party spokesman said "action will be taken" against her for accusing Jeremy Corbyn of being an antisemite. pic.twitter.com/A4Rvcsk4K7— Lucy Fisher (@LOS_Fisher) July 18, 2018
Mr Corbyn said: “I’d rather they delayed that discussion until September because there will be a full attendance at meetings in September.
“I suspect Monday’s meeting will not be fully attended because Parliament is rising on Tuesday.”
The move comes after senior Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who lost family members in the Holocaust, last week confronted Mr Corbyn in Parliament over the party’s response to anti-Semitism.
She later said Mr Corbyn was “now perceived by many as an anti-Semite”.
Mr Corbyn revealed he had not spoken to Dame Margaret since the incident, which she faces disciplinary action over.
He said: “I felt not pleased about it, I felt upset about it but as always I am very calm and treat people with a great deal of respect.
“I don’t shout at people, I just listen to what they have to say.
“A complaint has been registered and that will have to be dealt with by the party, but that is independent of me.”
Mr Corbyn also defended the position taken by Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) in not including the IHRA definition in its new code of conduct.
He said: “(The NEC) wasn’t trying to re-write it, it has accepted almost all of it.
“What it’s done is also put alongside it a code of conduct for members of the party because we will not tolerate anti-Semitism in any form whatsoever in the party.”
The comments came as a shadow Cabinet ally of Mr Corbyn’s, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey told the BBC: “We’re starting from a very, very dark place due to the actions of a minority in our party and the failure of us to deal with it quickly.”
Labour’s code explicitly endorses the IHRA’s working definition of anti-Semitism and includes a list of behaviours likely to be regarded as anti-Semitic copied word-for-word from the international organisation’s own document.
But it omits four examples from the IHRA list:
1. Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country.
2. Claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour.
3. Requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations.
4. Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.
Labour insisted that while the examples are not reproduced word for word, they are covered in the new code.
Baroness Smith, the Labour leader in the House of Lords, has said her party adopting the full international definition of anti-Semitism is “the way forward”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour: “That’s the one that gives the Jewish community confidence and with that they have confidence that we’re tackling it properly.
“The NEC (National Executive Committee) are consulting with the groups. So let’s hope we can move forward on this.”
Tory vice chairman Rehman Chishti said: “Labour’s failure to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitic racism in full is shameful.”