As Frank Field resigns, who are the other Labour MPs concerned about anti-Semitism?

As Frank Field resigns, who are the other Labour MPs concerned about anti-Semitism?

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Frank Field, the Labour MP for Birkenhead has resigned the Labour whip over the handling of anti-Semitism allegations, but he is not the only Labour MP to voice concerns amid the anti-Semitism row.

In a letter to Labour’s chief whip Nick Brown, he said: “Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack.

“The leadership is doing nothing substantive to address this erosion of our core values. It saddens me to say that we are increasingly seen as a racist party.

“This issue alone compels me to resign the whip.”


Who else has voiced concern?

  • Tom Watson, deputy Labour leader

Tom Watson warned at the beginning of August that the Labour Party will “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment” unless it stops the damaging arguments over anti-semitism.

Speaking to the Observer, he said: “This is one of those moments when we have 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 is very important that we all work to de-escalate this disagreement, and I think it starts with dropping the investigations into Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin.

“I have frequently had very difficult conversations with both Margaret and Ian but what I understand is that your critics are not your enemies. On an issue that is so dear to them, I think people are very, very concerned that these investigations should be dropped quickly.”

  • Margaret Hodge MP

Margaret Hodge, the Labour MP for Barking confronted Jeremy Corbyn in July over his handling of anti-Semitism allegations, calling him an 'anti-Semite'.

She was subject to an investigation by the Labour party, which was dropped, but said that facing a disciplinary felt like being "a Jew in Germany in the 30s".

  • Ian Austin MP

Ian Austin, a former No 10 aide to Gordon Brown faces possible suspension after an argument with the party's chairman Ian Lavery.

The MP for Dudley North, who is the adopted child of a Jewish refugee, said it was a "heated discussion" about how the party tackles anti-Semitism.

He told BBC Radio 4 he called the anti-Semitism code of conduct a "disgrace".

He has been involved in debates with pro-Corbyn writer Aaron Bastani on Twitter.

  • Chuka Umunna MP

Chuka Umunna has said that under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour are “clearly” discriminating against Jews.

He said: "For what it is worth, my own view is that the Jewish community has clearly been subject to differential treatment by our party these last few years which is discriminatory.”

The former Shadow Business Secretary, added: "Part of the reason I joined the party was because I believed it to be anti-racist which is why this horrifies me and I have not hesitated publicly to say so.”

Mr Umunna made his hard-hitting remarks in letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party, after the party adopted a new anti-Semitism definition, instead of the broader International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition.

  • Luciana Berger MP

The Jewish Labour MP, Luciana Berger, who represents Liverpool Wavertree told the House of Commons “I make no apology for holding my own party to a higher standard.”

She said: “I make no apology for holding my own party to a higher standard. Anti-racism is one of our central values and there was a time not long ago when the left actively confronted antisemitism.

“The work that the previous Labour government did to move the equality goalposts in this country was one of the reasons I joined the Labour party.

“One antisemitic member of the Labour party is one member too many.”

She also criticised Corbyn's comments during a 2013 speech that Zionists "don't understand English irony" in a tweet. 

  • Ruth Smeeth

Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish MP for Stoke-on-Trent North also spoke in the House of Commons saying that anti-Semitism was engulfing parts of the Labour Party.

She said: “What is so heartbreaking is the concerted effort in some quarters to downplay the problem. For every comment like those you’ve just heard, you can find 10 people ready to dismiss it, to cry smear, to say that we are weaponising anti-Semitism.

“Weaponising anti-semitism, my family came to this country in the pogroms in the 19th century. Of our relatives who stayed in Europe, none survived. “We know what antisemitism is, we know where it leads, how dare these people suggest that?”

  • Keir Starmer

The Shadow Brexit Secretary attacked Labour’s failure to adopt the full IHRA definition, saying: “Councils, institutions across the country have accepted the full definition.

“I would urge everybody within the Labour party to listen to the voices that have come out in recent days and get to a position where we are supporting the full definition.”

  • The Jewish Leadership Council

Corbyn’s remarks on British Zionists ‘belong in 1930s Germany’, the CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council said.

Speaking to James Max on the talkRADIO breakfast show, Simon Johnson said the Labour leader “cannot say that he wants to eliminate anti-semitism when he so lazily throws around the word Zionist when he means Jews”. Watch the video above to hear the conversation.

  • The Board of Deputies of British Jews

Marie Van Der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, told talkRADIO that Corbyn is not "a credible anti-racist"

“The other MPs that have been trying to call out anti-Semitism - Ian Austin, Margaret Hodge - they are the ones that are being victimised, subject to disciplinary action and Labour is going into a deep abyss,” she said.

“Jeremy Corbyn needs to lead the Labour party out of this urgently so he can return Labour to being an anti-racist party.”


Who's supporting Corbyn?

  • Chris Williamson

The Labour MP for Derby North told talkRADIO’s James Whale that Corbyn's critics had “been duped by the Daily Mail”.

Williamson said: “You’ve been duped by the Daily Mail. He’s spent his life fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, he’s a man of peace.

  • Jewish Voice for Labour

Mike Cushman, the membership officer of Jewish Voice for Labour told Julia Hartley-Brewer that the anti-Semitism allegations had been “fabricated”.

He said: “I’ve known Jeremy for years. He’s opposed anti-Semitism, he’s supported Jewish causes, he’s supported Jewish organisations throughout his life.

“This is a scandal he’s been accused of, something that’s so manifestly untrue.”

Glyn Secker of Jewish Voice for Labour has also defended Corbyn - listen to him talking to Julia Hartley-Brewer in the video above.

  • Dave Randall

Former Faithless guitarist Dave Randall told talkRADIO: “I think that political musicians, particularly people like [British-Iraqi rapper behind the song ‘Long Live Palestine’] Lowkey and people who’ve been directly involved in the question of solidarity for Palestinians, they understand that it is completely outrageous to conflate criticisms of the political project called Zionism, to conflate that with being in any way anti-Jewish.”

He added: “The left wing fans, people who’ve been active politically before, they know Corbyn has been absolutely the best credentials in the House of Commons when it comes to fighting against racism in all its forms, and indeed fighting against racism in general.”

  • Aaron Bastani

​​​​​​The co-founder of left-wing news and politics website Novara Media, Aaron Bastani has previously voiced support for Corbyn and called former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks a "right wing ultra-nationalist" on Twitter. "Labour shouldn’t concede to such voices," he added.

His comments came after Lord Sacks compared Corbyn's comments about Zionists to Enoch Powell's notorious 'Rivers of Blood' speech, and said they were “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician”.

The 68 rabbis Bastani refers to in his tweet are a group of rabbis who signed a letter, published in the Guardian in July, condemning anti-Semitism within the Labour party.