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‘LABOUR SUSPENDS JEREMY CORBYN AFTER revealing instances of harassment, discrimnation, anti-Semitism, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints and suggestions that complaints of anti-Semitism were fake or smears’
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has suspended Jeremy Corbyn from the party over his reaction to a highly critical report on anti-Semitism.
The human rights watchdog found Labour responsible for “unlawful” harassment and discrimination during Mr Corbyn’s years in charge of the party.
But Mr Corbyn later said the scale of anti-Semitism within Labour had been “dramatically overstated” by opponents.
Labour said he was being suspended “for a failure to retract” his words.
Mr Corbyn reacted by calling the move “political” and promised to “strongly contest” it.
Watchdog launches Labour anti-Semitism probeA guide to Labour anti-Semitism claimsLabour’s agony over anti-Semitism far from overSir Keir, who became Labour leader in April, said the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report had brought “a day of shame” for the party.
The report found Labour responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act:
Political interference in anti-Semitism complaintsFailure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaintsHarassment, including the use of anti-Semitic tropes and suggesting that complaints of anti-Semitism were fake or smearsThe investigation found evidence of 23 instances of “inappropriate involvement” by Mr Corbyn’s office, included staff influencing decisions on suspensions or whether to investigate a claim.
Sir Keir promised to implement the report’s recommendations “as soon as possible in the New Year” and to change Labour’s culture.
Responding to the EHRC’s findings, Mr Corbyn said he was “always determined to eliminate all forms of racism” and “regretted it took longer to deliver… change than it should”.
But he claimed his team had “acted to speed up, not hinder the process”, and that the scale of anti-Semitism in the party had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons”. This is a huge moment for Labour under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.
If there were lingering doubts about whether this is a party under new management, with a new direction, there aren’t now.
Suspending his predecessor shows he is determined to do whatever it takes to close the door on the issue of anti-Semitism within Labour and break from the past.
It will appear ruthless to some, decisive to others – and certainly provocative to Jeremy Corbyn’s allies.
By doing this, Sir Keir can follow through on his “zero-tolerance” promise on anti-Semitism while putting clear water between him and the man in whose shadow cabinet he served before himself becoming leader.
2px presentational grey lineLabour later said: “In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation.
“He has also had the whip removed from the Parliamentary Labour Party.”
Mr Corbyn reacted to his suspension on Twitter, writing: “I will strongly contest the political intervention to suspend me. I’ve made absolutely clear those who deny there has been an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong.
“I will continue to support a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of racism.”
He added on Facebook that it was “undeniable that a false impression has been created of the number of (Labour) members accused of anti-Semitism”, saying “that is what has been overstated, not the seriousness of the problem”. 10:00 GMT EHRC releases report saying Labour acted unlawfully over anti-Semitism
10:36 Jeremy Corbyn releases statement saying there was an anti-Semitism problem in the party, but it was “dramatically overstated”
11:07 Sir Keir Starmer holds a press conference, saying those who think anti-Semitism is “exaggerated or a factional attack” are “part of the problem”
11:15 Sir Keir is repeatedly asked if he would expel Mr Corbyn for “exaggerated” comments – he says the report did not name individuals and repeats his previous statement
12:15 Corbyn records an interview with broadcasters, to be released at 13:00, disagreeing with a number of the report’s points and repeating that the number of anti-Semitism cases is “exaggerated”
13:06 Labour releases a statement saying it has suspended Mr Corbyn “in light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently” Labour has been plagued by accusations of anti-Semitism since 2016, with a number of MPs quitting the party in protest while Mr Corbyn was leader.
Jewish Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge said: “[The suspension] is the right decision following Corbyn’s shameful reaction to the EHRC report.
“Labour is finally saying enough is enough, anti-Semitism can never be tolerated in our party. Now we can finally move on.” Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: “Jeremy is a thoroughly decent man, but he has an absolute blind spot and a denial when it comes to some of these issues.”
It was important for the party to “uphold our values, and today is about making sure we do that – so it’s not about personal friendships; it’s about making sure that the about Labour Party does the right thing by the Jewish community”.
But groups on the left of the Labour movement attacked the decision to suspend him.
The Socialist Campaign Group, which includes some of Mr Corbyn’s former frontbench allies such as Diane Abbott and Richard Burgon, said it “firmly” opposed the move, adding: “We will work tirelessly for his reinstatement.”
And Momentum, among Mr Corbyn’s strongest backers, called him “a lifelong, dedicated anti-racist”.
“This suspension risks politicising Labour’s response to anti-Semitism,” it said. “It is a massive attack on the left by the new leadership and should be immediately lifted in the interests of party unity.”
The EHRC launched its investigation in May last year after receiving a number of complaints from organisations and individuals, including the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Labour Movement.
Mr Corbyn, an MP since 1983, was Labour’s leader from 2015 until earlier this year – and has been a party member for 55 years. bbc