Two Labour peers quit in new anti-Semitism row

Two former Labour minsters have quit the party amid continuing controversy over anti-Semitism within its ranks.

Lord Triesman, a former general secretary and foreign office minister, said the party and its leadership were “institutionally anti-Semitic”.

Lord Darzi, a former health secretary, said he had “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism or any other form of religious or racial discrimination.

Lord Darzi
Lord Darzi said he had ‘zero tolerance’ for anti-Semitism (Chris Radburn/PA)

The resignations came as the party is braced for a major BBC Panorama investigation into its handling of the issue.

In his letter of resignation, Lord Triesman, a former chairman of the Football Association, said he was quitting as the extent of anti-Semitism among the “top leadership” had became clearer day by day.

“Anti-Semites are shielded and solid serious party members are thrown out unceremoniously,” he wrote in a letter to the Labour leader in the Lords, Baroness Smith.

“And each new manifestation is followed by a grim parade of social media messages directed at Jewish party members. The experience of life in the party has become sickening.

“My decision is straightforwardly about the party leadership’s use of any excuse to allow their allies to attack Jews or engage with anti-Semites.

“My sad conclusion is that the Labour Party is very plainly institutionally anti-Semitic, and its leader and his circle are anti-Semitic having never once made the right judgment call about an issue reflecting deep prejudice.”

He added: “We may one day be the party of anti-racism once again but it certainly isn’t today.”

Lord Darzi, whose family was caught up in the 1915 Armenian genocide, said that he would now be sitting in the Lords as an independent.

“I have zero tolerance to anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any other discrimination against religion or race. This decision has not been lightly taken,” he told BBC2’s Newsnight.

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