Jeremy Corbyn has merely issued a trickle of weak statements which don’t even scratch the surface of a heartfelt apology.
Earlier this week, hundreds of people gathered in Parliament Square in a stand against the anti-Semitism that, seemingly, runs more deeply through the veins of the Labour Party as each day passes. The crowds gathered in the shadows of the Palace of Westminster, the home of our long-standing modern democracy, of which we should be so proud. With such a history of fairness and as a modern trailblazing country of inclusivity, it is sad that politicians from a mainstream political party appear to believe that this racist behaviour has a place in British society.
The demonstration transcended party politics, and rightly so; people from all religions, all ages, all political philosophies, stood in solidarity in sending a strong and simple message to Jeremy Corbyn; enough is enough.
On this occasion the catalyst for condemnation was about a mural, which was painted on a wall in east London, depicting stereotypical images of wealthy Jewish financiers playing Monopoly on a table supported by the bare backs of slaves. In 2012, Jeremy Corbyn is said to have expressed disappointment that the mural was to be removed by the authorities, now feigning ignorance as to the anti-Semitic theme.
Labour have taken too long to stand out against anti-Semitism within the party, and more crucially, their leader Jeremy Corbyn has been astoundingly restrained and reluctant to act. He has merely issued a trickle of weak statements which don’t even scratch the surface of a heartfelt apology.
Many Labour moderate MPs have spoken out in disgust and frustration at his handling of this behaviour and a few even took to a platform in Parliament Square last week, publicly condemning the actions of their own party; Labour MPs Wes Streeting, co-chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on British Jews, and John Mann, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group against anti-Semitism, have written to their leader to urge him to take action to tackle “this poison in our ranks”, but still Jeremy Corbyn is in denial.
Last week, the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council wrote a furious letter accusing the Labour leader of ignoring the “mainstream majority of British Jews”. The letter, entitled “enough is enough”, says Corbyn personifies the form of politics that repeatedly fails to take anti-Semitism seriously, and says that “again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with anti-Semites”.
As Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for Communities, it is my role to ensure that we are reaching out to communities up and down the country, that no voice is left unheard and people feel properly represented.
And as a government, we are determined to make sure that anti-Semitism is never tolerated in this country. I’m proud that we have provided over £13 million to ensure the security of Jewish faith schools and synagogues. The Crown Prosecution Service has also made clear that it will be treating reports of online abuse in parity with abuses perpetrated “in person”; people can no longer hide behind a keyboard and a computer screen.
There appears to be an institutional problem within the Labour Party and to resolve it will require action and change led from the very top. That implicitly brings into serious question Corbyn’s suitability as party leader; a question increasingly on the lips of so many Labour MPs and decent moderate members. The Labour party clearly doesn’t treat anti-Semitism as seriously as it does other forms of prejudice. Let them be under no misconception, anti-Semitism is racism. They need to act, and the nation is watching.
Helen Grant is UK’s Member of Parliament for the constituency of Maidstone & The Weald. She is the first Anglo-African female Conservative MP and Minister. In January 2018, she was appointed a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for Communities.