After what has been a long and difficult few weeks for Labour, the Jeremy Corbyn-backing group Momentum has admitted that anti-Semitism is “more widespread” within the Labour Party than previously believed and said that complaints of anti-semitism cannot be dismissed “simply as right-wing smears”.
The Momentum statement directly contradicts the flood of left-wing activists who have attempted to dismiss anti-Semitism complaints as being nothing more than attacks on Jeremy Corbyn by his opponents both inside and outside the Labour party. It also stands in contrast to an open letter to Corbyn from a group calling itself ‘Labour Against The Witchhunt’, which blamed the allegations on “a cynical alliance between those who wish to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, and the right-wing in the Labour Party and the news media, who oppose your wider politics”.
Momentum, which played a critical part in Corbyn’s rise to Labour leader, acknowledged the anger of Britain’s Jewish community at the numerous cases of anti-Semitism inside Labour and the party’s failure to deal with them “in a sufficiently decisive, swift and transparent manner”.
Momentum’s National Coordinating Group (NCG) has now released a statement which states it has begun a process with external groups of developing anti-Semitism awareness training for Labour members.
The statement said: “Accusations of antisemitism should not and cannot be dismissed simply as right-wing smears nor as the result of conspiracies. Current examples of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party are not only a problem of a few, extreme ‘bad apples’ but also of unconscious bias which manifests itself in varied, nuanced and subtle ways and is more widespread in the Labour Party than many of us had understood even a few months ago.”
While Corbyn’s opponents were “opportunistically using this issue as a way to undermine his leadership”, this did not reduce the need to challenge anti-Semitism, the statement said.
Jeremy Corbyn has already said that he would not tolerate any anti-Semitism in the party. Speaking on Channel 4 News, he said: “There is genuine concern and we are dealing with that concern by investigating every case that is brought to our attention and, if the person has committed an anti-Semitic act, in any way, then they are suspended and usually expelled from the party as a result of that. We are not tolerating anti-Semitism in any form in the Labour Party.”