Ian Austin: Tories not 'poisoned by racism' in same way as Labour

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Former Labour MP Ian Austin has called on the next party leader to take “really specific and clear action” in tackling antisemitism.

In a damning review of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Mr Austin accused the outgoing leader of giving “the green light to extremism” but warned that the problem would not end with his departure.

He told talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer: “Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership this problem’s taken root throughout the party – he’s going but I don’t think that solves the problem in the Labour Party."

Mr Austin quit Labour last year and controversially urged voters to back Boris Johnson over Mr Corbyn in the December general election.

His fresh calls for action on antisemitism claims in Labour come as the Conservative Party faces criticism over alleged Islamophobia.

The Muslim Council of Britain last week urged the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to take “swift action” after it filed a dossier of accusations against more than 300 party members, including Boris Johnson.

But Mr Austin claimed the problem in the Conservative Party was not as deep as that in the Labour Party.

He said: “Of course the Tories have got to deal with these things, of course they have… but let’s not run away with the idea that the Tory Party has been poisoned institutionally by racism in the way that has happened in the Labour Party.”

And he also came to the defence of anti-racism campaigner Trevor Phillips, who was yesterday suspended from Labour over Islamophobia claims.

It was over comments he made in the past, including remarks on Pakistani Muslim men sexually abusing children in Northern British towns.

Mr Austin said Mr Phillips had “devoted his entire life to leading the fight against racism in Britain” and claimed his suspension could be to do with being a “vocal critic” of Labour’s antisemitism policy.

He said the response from Labour showed the party was “not dealing with the issue of antisemitism effectively”, saying it was “digging in rather than accepting the need for wholesale reform”.

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