Labour deputy leader warns: tackle antisemitism or ‘disappear into a vortex of eternal shame’
The deputy leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party increased pressure on its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, over antisemitism on Sunday, saying the party could “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame” unless he tackled a growing crisis.
Corbyn has been criticized by Jewish groups for what they describe as his tolerance of antisemitism in Labour, a crisis that has threatened his standing at a time when the governing Conservatives are struggling to unite behind a Brexit plan.
Corbyn again appealed to Jewish members on Sunday, using a video message to press his pledge to drive antisemitism out of the party “for good” after a similar attempt fell flat for several Jewish groups on Saturday. One — the Jewish Labour Movement — called for action, not words.
In an interview with the Observer newspaper, deputy leader Tom Watson took aim at Corbyn saying the party had to “take a long, hard look at ourselves, stand up for what is right and present the party as fit to lead the nation – or disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment.”
“I think it’s very important that we all work to de-escalate this disagreement.”
He called on Corbyn to adopt in full an internationally accepted definition of antisemitism. Labour says it has concerns about part of the definition but had re-opened discussions to take into account Jewish community concerns.
In his message, Corbyn did not refer to the definition but apologized for the hurt caused to many Jewish people and pledged to speed up disciplinary cases in Labour to drive out antisemitism.
“People who use antisemitic poison need to understand: You do not do it in my name, or the name of my party. You are not our supporters,” he said.
There is no place for antisemitism in the Labour Party. We must drive it out of our movement for good. pic.twitter.com/V1voY75yz4— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) August 5, 2018