The editor of the Jewish Chronicle said this has been “one of the worst weeks for British politics in my lifetime” after an eighth Labour MP resigned from the party last night.
Speaking to talkRADIO’s Toby Young, Stephen Pollard praised the “courage and decency” of Joan Ryan, who cited concerns over antisemitism for her resignation.
However he said he was “depressed” that the Labour MPs felt they had to leave, and added that their departure was a “shocking indictment” of the party under Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Pollard said: “It’s deeply depressing, this whole week has been possibly one of the worst weeks for me in British politics in my lifetime.
“The fact that Luciana Berger, a young Jewish woman whose entire political career has been spent in the Labour party now feels driven out by antisemitic bullies is a truly shocking indictment for the Labour Party and for British politics generally.”.
He added: “The most telling fact of this entire horrid episode is that Jeremy Corbyn has not spoken to Luciana Berger since 2017.
“Just think about that for a moment, a Labour MP who has been suffering from appalling abuse from antisemites and the man who says he has zero tolerance for antisemitism has literally not picked up the phone to her and said I hope you’re ok, not once."
Labour is not showing "zero tolerance"
Mr Pollard criticised efforts made by Labour's general secretary, Jennie Formby. Image: Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images.
Mr Pollard said comments made by Labour general secretary Jennie Formby to the Parliamentary Labour Party two weeks ago showed the leadership were not taking the antisemitism allegations seriously.
He said: “Jennie Formby said you could never fully eradicate antisemitism from the Labour Party - that’s not a statement of fact, that’s a statement of intent.
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“You can abolish antisemitism and you can do it very simply: the moment someone says something antisemitic you do what you said you were going to do and get rid of them."
Mr Pollard said he was shocked that official Labour figures indicate that the majority of members investigated for antisemitism were given warnings rather than expulsion.
He added: “That’s not zero tolerance, that’s patting them on the back and saying never mind, don’t do it again.”