Jeremy Corbyn has been warned that he could face a “mass walkout” of Jewish people from Labour as the party’s Jewish affiliate group called an emergency meeting on whether to quit.
The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) called an emergency general meeting yesterday to discuss “where we go from here” after seven MPs resigned over Mr Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism and other issues.
The group’s parliamentary chair, Luciana Berger, was one of the MPs who quit on Monday. She said she had reached the “sickening” conclusion that Labour was “institutionally antisemitic”.
JLM sources said Berger’s decision to quit could trigger further departures of Jewish members.
One source said “A lot of people have taken the view that they’d stay as long as Luciana stays, given the amount of abuse she’s received over a sustained period of time. Yesterday was a really big moment. There has been an outpouring of people responding to Luciana’s resignation and there are a lot of people who need the space to have that conversation [about whether to quit].
“The party is at real risk of seeing a mass walkout of Jewish Labour members as a result of the failure to tackle antisemitism and the bullying of Luciana out of the party”.
The JLM national secretary Peter Mason said in an email to members that “far too little has been achieved for the party to be able to claim in all honesty that it upholds the ‘zero tolerance’ environment promised to us and the Jewish community those many months ago. Instead, we have seen the entrenching of a culture of antisemitism, obfuscation and denial”.
Our statement on the resignation of our Parliamentary Chair, Luciana Berger MP and others from the Labour Party. pic.twitter.com/nHbCVH32qw
— Jewish Labour Movement (@JewishLabour) February 18, 2019
Labour chairman Ian Lavery faced an angry backlash at a “heated” behind-closed-doors meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) yesterday. Lavery reportedly stressed the leadership’s commitment to rooting out antisemitism during the meeting, but this was greeted with ridicule by some of those present. He faced accusations that he had failed to understand the “enormity” of antisemitism within the party.
Mr Lavery was said to have have expressed anger at the claim, saying that if the party was antisemitic then he would not be a member.
Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth said in an emotional intervention that she and Louise Ellman, another Jewish MP, had been told by a party member they did not have “human blood”. She reportedly broke down in tears mid-way through her statement.
They added that no action had been taken against the individual concerned.
Jewish Labour MP Ruth Smeeth breaks down in tears in PLP meeting as she accuses party leadership of not doing enough to tackle antisemitism.
— Kevin Schofield (@PolhomeEditor) February 18, 2019