In leaked tape, Corbyn casts doubt on his staff’s ability to deal with antisemitism
London – Embattled leader of the UK Labour party Jeremy Corbyn admitted behind closed doors that evidence of antisemitism in his party may have been “mislaid, ignored or not used,” the Sunday Times revealed after obtained a leaked recording.
Corbyn reportedly made the comments in a secretly recorded conversation with Jewish Member of Parliament Dame Margaret Hodge in February of this year, where the two were said to be discussing the accusations of antisemitisms engulfing the party and its leadership.
In the recording, Corbyn explaining his rationale for selecting Lord Falconer to oversee the process for complaints on the matter.
“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,” Corbyn said. “Because I was concerned that evidence was either being mislaid, ignored or not used and that there had to be some better system.”
Jeremy Corbyn has privately admitted that evidence of antisemitism in Labour has been “mislaid, ignored or not used”, The Sunday Times can reveal.
— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) April 14, 2019
The Times described the comments as “the first time Corbyn has cast doubt on his own staff’s ability to tackle the problem [antisemitism]” that has dented the party’s reputation for the past few years.
According to the BBC, the party dismissed the suggestion as “categorically untrue.” Whilst another Labour spokesperson told the Times that the recording showed Corbyn’s “desire to make procedures as robust and efficient as possible and to rebuild trust with the Jewish community.”
The comments came a week after the affiliated Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) passed a motion of no confidence in the leader. National secretary of the movement, Peter Mason said Jewish members were “looking on in horror” about the string of events within the party.
In another expose published last Sunday, the Times revealed that the Labour leadership had failed to take action against hundreds of cases of antisemitism by party members despite more than 850 recorded complaints.
The revelation came after the British weekly obtained a hard drive containing a confidential database of leaked documents that showed that the party’s complaints system was “bedeviled by delays, inaction and interference from the leader’s office.”
One specific case, among a host detailed by the Times report, said a sitting councilor in Lancashire was welcomed back into the party after ranting about “Jewish” media attacks and the Rothschild family — a frequented reference by those engaging in antisemitic rhetoric alluding to stereotypes of Jewish bankers. The unnamed individual claimed she uses the term “Jewish” as a “blanket term of description without racist connotations.”
Another anonymous individual from Manchester, was readmitted into to the party despite sharing material that claimed “Jewish Israelis” were responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attack in the United States.
Whilst in a different case, a Labour official said a council candidate who accused Jewish MP’s of being “Zionist infiltrators” was ruled out for suspension, as being a “candidate” gave him a immunity of disciplinary action.
In a separate incident appearing to show levels of antisemitism in the UK, but not necessarily related to the Labour party, the English Premier League soccer club West Ham said on Saturday that it will ban any fans who were filmed chanting antisemitic abuse on a tram before a match at Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium.
Since Corbyn assumed leadership of the party in 2015, a series of controversies relating to his seemingly one-sided pro-Palestinian rhetoric and repeated failure to stamp out burgeoning antisemitism within his party has led to a tumultuous relationship with British Jewry.
In March, the London Metropolitan police arrested three individuals amid its investigation into antisemitic social media posts allegedly originating from members of the Labour party.
The latest controversy to envelop Corbyn erupted after it was reported that he said at a Palestinian Return Center event in 2013 that “Zionists” in Britain “clearly have two problems: they don’t appreciate history or understand English irony”. His comments implied that “Zionists” — which some of interpreted as him using a synonym for “Jews” — don’t understand British ways of thinking even though they grew up in the country.
In the last few months, nine Labour party lawmakers have quit the party, with citing concerns of growing antisemitism amid the party loyal.