Labour needs to roll out an education programme for members after Jewish leaders staged a protest against anti-Semitism within the party, a senior MP has said.
Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey admitted a demonstration outside Parliament on Monday evening was “emotional” for everybody within Labour, including party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Several hundred people, including a number of Labour MPs, attended the protest in Westminster where Mr Corbyn was told “enough is enough”.
Mrs Long-Bailey, a close ally of the Labour leader, admitted “more needs to be done” to tackle abuse of Jews, as she stressed Labour’s efforts in dealing with allegations of anti-Semitism needed to be accelerated.
She told Sky News: “We need to speed up the investigatory processes that we have within the party, we also need to roll out a political education programme so that every single member within the Labour Party understands all forms of anti-Semitism.
“And that needs to be enforced at a local level to make sure that we don’t have incidences where people are being victimised or language is being used in debates that is, quite frankly, unacceptable.”
Mrs Long-Bailey described how “too often” anti-Semitism is “masked within political discourse, within the language that people use to describe certain political situations”.
“Either they deliberately do it, or sometimes accidentally without realising, and we need to be clearer on that in the party,” she added.
The frontbencher confessed the need for greater political education within Labour had been among the recommendations of a report on anti-Semitism by Shami Chakrabarti in June 2016, but had yet to be implemented.
Little more than a month after Baroness Chakrabarti ruled Labour is “not overrun by anti-Semitism”, in the report branded a “whitewash” by critics, she was handed a place in the House of Lords by Mr Corbyn.
Mrs Long-Bailey cited the case of former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who has been suspended from Labour since April 2016 pending an internal investigation, as the need to accelerate the party’s response to anti-Semitism allegations.
She said: “The investigation process needs to be sped up so that we can restore faith in the process.
“There are a number of cases that have taken a long time to resolve, shall we say, and that’s not acceptable. It needs to be dealt with in a far more expedient manner.”
Prior to Monday’s protest, Mr Corbyn wrote to the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies of British Jews to offer an urgent meeting and tell them he was “sincerely sorry”.
Mrs Long-Bailey defended Mr Corbyn from the claim he had only offered his fullest apology so far due to the organisation of a demonstration outside Parliament.
She said: “Jeremy as a person has been vehemently opposed to all forms of anti-Semitism throughout his whole life.
“And personally he’s devastated there are people within the Jewish community who don’t have faith in our party processes.
“He’s never been mealy-mouthed whenever he’s been asked about anti-Semitism.
“He’s always opposed anti-Semitism in any form that it’s found and he’s called it out wherever that’s been found.”
The latest concerns about anti-Semitism in Labour have deepened after it emerged Mr Corbyn previously offered support on Facebook against the removal of an east London mural featuring anti-Semitic imagery.
Mr Corbyn subsequently apologised for “not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012”.
On Tuesday, The Guardian reported a formal complaint about Mr Corbyn’s Facebook post in apparent support of the mural was lodged with the Labour Party in February last year.
It is understood the complaint was handled by Labour’s governance and legal unit and Mr Corbyn’s Facebook comment was not found to have met the threshold for a breach of the party’s rules, as it only questioned the mural’s removal.
Mr Corbyn’s office were not aware of the February 2017 complaint, a party source told Sky News.
The Labour Party does not comment on complaints made to the unit.
After Mr Corbyn’s letter to Jewish leaders on Monday, backbench MP Bridget Phillipson expressed hope the Labour leader would call upon those who support him to “desist” from anti-Semitic abuse.
She told Sky News: “It’s not what our party is for, it’s not in line with our values and it makes me ashamed to see people acting in the name of the Labour Party conducting themselves in such a racist, offensive way.”
Ms Phillipson added: “I feel ashamed. It makes me ashamed to feel that our Jewish friends do not feel the Labour Party is a safe and welcoming place.
“It’s right that we condemn anti-Semitism but I’ve had enough of the talking, we need to see some action now.”
Mr Corbyn did not comment to reporters for the second day running as he left his north London home on Tuesday.
From – SkyNews