Lord Falconer says Labour needs to do more to deal with anti-Semitism claims
Labour needs to do more to deal with accusations of anti-Semitism in its ranks, a former Cabinet minister has said.
Lord Falconer made the comments after Labour became embroiled in fresh controversy over the issue.
The ex-lord chancellor, who has been asked by the party leadership to hold an investigation into anti-Semitism, told the BBC: “I think this is a very, very real threat to the party.
“How can you convince people that you are a serious, moral, decent party if you are anti-Semitic?
“How can you claim to be an alternative Government if you are anti-Semitic?
“We have to do something about it.”
The comments came after it was reported party leader Jeremy Corbyn had expressed concern that evidence of anti-Semitism in Labour has been “mislaid or ignored”.
The Labour leader made the comments during a secretly recorded meeting with MP Dame Margaret Hodge, the Sunday Times said.
Mr Corbyn was speaking in February as he outlined his intention to appoint Lord Falconer to review the party’s complaints process, the newspaper said.
The newspaper quoted Mr Corbyn saying: “The point of him (Falconer) is that he will look at the speed of dealing with cases, the administration of them, and the collation of the evidence before it is put before appropriate panels and things.
“Because I was concerned that evidence was either being mislaid, ignored or not used and that there had to be some better system.”
A Labour spokesman said the party takes allegations of anti-Semitism seriously.
He said: “This shows Jeremy Corbyn’s desire to make procedures as robust and efficient as possible and to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.
“We don’t comment on staffing matters. Complaints are being handled in the usual way.
“The Labour Party takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.
“All complaints about anti-Semitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
Dame Margaret told the BBC: “The reason, actually, that I recorded that particular tape was as an insurance policy.
“I was having a one-to-one meeting with Jeremy Corbyn and, ironically, I didn’t want what I said to be misrepresented.
“So, I thought it was best to record it.”
Labour MP Ronnie Campbell said taping Mr Corbyn at a private meeting was unacceptable.
He told the BBC: “I think it’s deplorable that somebody goes to a private meeting with the leader and records conversation – that’s absolutely unacceptable.”
The Blyth Valley MP said critics of Mr Corbyn were using “the Jewish issue” to attack him.
Mr Campbell said: “People in the Parliamentary Labour Party are using the Jewish issue, the anti-Semitic issue, as a big to stick to beat Corbyn, get rid of him.
“It’s as simple as that as far as I can see.”
He added: “To use the leader, and get at the leader because you want rid of the leader – ‘cos, nobody wanted him in the first place, remember that, and the Parliamentary Labour Party, you know, they put a no confidence vote in, and when they didn’t get that they started to say what issue can we get him on?
“‘Oh, the Jewish issue, this is a good one’.”
Mr Campbell said people with anti-Semitic views had no place in the Labour Party.
And Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi met former Labour MPs to discuss anti-Semitism and other issues.
Ms Pelosi tweeted: “Important discussion with former Labour Party MPs @MikeGapes,@ChrisLeslieMP & @IanAustinMP to hear their perspective on Brexit, why they left the Labour Party, and the importance of standing unequivocally against anti-Semitism wherever it is found.”