Shami Chakrabarti, a Labour peer with close links to leader Jeremy Corbyn, has been accused of not answering the question of whether allegations of antisemitism cost her party the election.
On BBC’s Question Time on Friday, Baroness Chakrabarti was challenged by Sharon Garfinkel, a Jewish member of the audience over whether the loss of seats with a high concentration of Jewish voters, such as Golders Green and Finchley, proved crucial to the final result.
“Do you think if there had been less antisemitism in the Labour Party from people like Corbyn and perhaps you then Corbyn would be in power?” Ms Garfinkel asked.
Baroness Chakrabarti, who chaired the inquiry into alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party, acknowledged there had been problems with racism and antisemitism in Labour but that she did not attribute the election loss to them.
When Ms Garfinkel responded by saying a lot of Jewish people had reservations about voting Labour, Ms Chakrabarti said she made recommendations and she believes the party can “move forward together”.
Ms Garfinkel, a fundraiser for an educational charity, told the JC she was left dissatisfied by the answer, saying Ms Chakrabarti quickly moved on to a previous question.
She said: “I was encouraged by some clapping from the audience but I felt she didn’t focus on it enough. And David Dimbleby (the panel chair) – why didn’t he press her on it? The panel didn’t seem that interested. Alastair Campbell looked quite surprised at the question.
“I know a lot of Jewish people who were very conflicted about Labour. So many people feel so angry about the whole thing. If everyone (in the Jewish community) voted Labour they would have done better.”
Baroness Chakrabarti appeared on the panel debate programme on Friday evening, along with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, Mr Campbell, the former Labour Party communications director, The Thick of It creator Armando Iannucci, and journalist Isabel Oakeshott.
Viewers immediately took to Twitter to criticise Ms Chakrabarti . Mark Wilson wrote: “I'm not Jewish but the was Shami Chakrabarti just brushes over anti semitism is an absolute disgrace! #questiontime"
Others commented Ms Chakrabarti, a former director of human rights advocacy group Liberty, looked “uncomfortable” when asked the question, while others believed Mr Dimbleby should have pressed her on the issue.