Jewish Chronicle editor: 'Any decent Labour MP' should join breakaway party due to antisemitism scandal

Monday, February 11, 2019

The editor of the Jewish Chronicle has said that he hopes Labour's actions on antisemitism will encourage "decent" MPs to join a breakaway party,  following calls for the deselection of Liverpool Wavetree MP Luciana Berger.

Ms Berger faced a motion of no confidence from the Wavertree branch of Labour after accusations of disloyalty to Jeremy Corbyn, but it was withdrawn last week after allegations of antisemitic bullying.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has said that members of the Wavertree party are being investigated, but general secretary Jennie Formby rejected his calls to consider suspensions, saying there was “no constitutional basis”.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell caused outrage last week when he said that Ms Berger should deny reports she could join a breakaway party, and said he didn’t think the no confidence vote arose from antisemitism.

Asked by Julia Hartley-Brewer whether the furore could lead to some MPs forming a breakaway party as had been suggested, Stephen Pollard said: “I’d like to think the answer is yes, because any decent, moderate normal Labour MP could not in all conscience be a member of a party that’s campaigning to put into power the people who are responsible for this.”

 

'Disgraceful'

“You may remember on another show he [Mr McDonnell] was very emollient and said ‘antisemitism is terrible’, then when this motion of no confidence in Luciana Berger was exposed, his response wasn’t to say this was outrageous bullying - it happens that she’s also eight months pregnant - his response was that she needs to pledge her loyalty first,” Mr Pollard told Hartley-Brewer.

“In other words, ‘it’s okay, we’ll allow the Jew to stay in as long as she’s loyal’. It’s pretty disgraceful.

“Tom Watson… wrote to the Labour Party general secretary Jennie Formby, who is directly responsible for not taking any action against people, and her response, which was published yesterday evening, was to say there was nothing wrong with the [Wavertree] party at all.”

He also alleged that Ms Formby would refuse to attend a meeting on Monday (February 11) regarding the party’s response to allegations of antisemitism.

“Labour MPs this evening are due to have a report from Ms Formby about the action that she’s taken. Last week they had a motion demanding she came with details this week, and she’s already announced she’s not going to come.”

 

'4,000 allegations'

Mr Pollard said that one organisation, which he did not name, had been passed details of 4,000 allegations of antisemitism.

“We don’t know if those are all accurate or genuine, but so committed are they [Labour] to dealing with antisemitism that they refuse to give details about the cases that are outstanding or how many they’ve dealt with. They simply give blithe responses about clearing the backlog,” he said.

The Labour Party has been approached for comment.

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