In the past couple of weeks, the Labour Party has been dealing with the horrible truth that anti-Semitism exists throughout their system. Jeremy Corbyn has come under huge pressure to quickly and swiftly deal with this problem, and the UK press has hounded the party’s elite bodies to act.
Many people have been wondering why Labour is the only political party in the UK to have such an issue with anti-Semitism. Unless Jeremy Corbyn and Labour do not resolve this problem, then it will almost certainly cost them dearly in the local elections this year, as well as the next General Election.
The Labour Party have had a long history of Anti-Semitic aspects in the past. This has mainly been because of the party’s anti-Zionism attitudes and their pro-Palestinian position. Naturally, once the anti-Zionism comes into force, then more extreme viewa can be perceived to be anti-Semitic.
In recent years, prominent Labour members have been caught being anti-Semitic. In 2016, Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, was suspended for a year because of comments saying that “Hitler supported Zionism until he went mad.” Further to this, current Bradford West MP Naz Shah was suspended from the party in 2016 for online comments stating that “Israel should be moved to the United States”.
Jeremy Corbyn has always been strongly pro-Palestinian, and this was never a significant issue for Labour and the public until he became leader of the party in 2015. After Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing in the Labour leadership contest, the Jewish Chronicle newspaper ran the headline “The key questions Jeremy Corbyn must answer”.
In the last 2 weeks, a huge protest was held by the Jewish community outside of parliament to protest against the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism problem and how Jeremy Corbyn has failed to deal with the issue. This was the starting point for intense press scrutiny and the discovery of further problems within the party system.
The Labour leader is now facing criticism for attending an event where the group called “Jewdas”, a radical group of British Jews, were present. The Labour MP Angela Smith said that this was a “blatant dismissal” of attempting to tackle the problem within the party. Furthermore, Momentum have issued a statement saying that they “had not realised the extent of the issue within the party”.
So what should Labour do? Firstly, they need to somehow remove the press intensity from this crisis and attempt to resolve this internally. Secondly, their disciplinary process MUST improve in the selection and vetting of candidates for both public office and internal party positions.
Will Labour recover from this? Yes of course they will, we only have to look at the electoral performances of Labour and the issue never seems to have a major impact. However, if Labour do not address this problem, then they may not recover as quickly and crucially as they need.