Ed Balls says Jeremy Corbyn has said 'antisemitic things and fails to see it'

Former Labour Shadow Chancellor says he is 'ashamed' by party's Jew-hate crisis


Ed Balls, the former Labour Shadow Chancellor, said he was “ashamed” of the way his party has handled the antisemitism crisis and accused Jeremy Corbyn of failing to acknowledge the "antisemitic things" he has said.

Speaking at a fundraising dinner for Finchley Progressive Synagogue on Thursday, Mr Balls said Mr Corbyn had said “antisemitic things and fails to be able to see it".

“In the end you have to be very honest,” Mr Balls added. “To be fair to Jeremy Corbyn he has been very consistent about his views.”

Mr Balls said the Labour Leader's fixation with “anti-imperialism, America and anti-Israel rhetoric takes him to a place where he says things that are antisemitic.

“The huge frustration for me is that he is unable to see that. I think he sees himself as an antiracist.”

Mr Balls said antisemitism among Labour members would continue unless Mr Corbyn acknowledges and apologises for the antisemitic things that he has said.

“You can’t tackle it if you can’t identify it and see it for what it is. There is no excuse for that.”

At the dinner held at the synagogue, which was attended by more than 150 people, he said “British politics is in a crisis” because of Brexit and that both the mainstream parties were “pulling apart” and might not “survive.”

He said Labour would find it challenging to win and an election by the end of the year.

“Both parties are pulling away from the centre ground and that makes it difficult to win,” he said. “I think that will leave us with a pro longed period of weak conservative governments.”

He said senior figures from the Bank of England had told him Brexit had already caused “very serious damage to the economy which is going to go on for months and years.”

Mr Balls, who was a member of the Labour Friends of Israel until he lost his seat in 2015, defended plans for the Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre planned for Victoria Tower Gardens, by the Houses of Parliament.

The plans have been criticised because of its impact on the public park.

He said: “It is hugely important that we have it and that it is next to parliament especially for the things I have been talking about. Our politicians need to see it.

"When we have had terrible moments in our history it has started in parliament when mistakes are made.”

Mr Balls has been working on the project alongside Lord Pickles after Theresa May appointed them to be co-chairs of the UK Holocaust Memorial Trust advisory board.

Mr Balls said: “I was thinking about things I wouldn’t have expected and I wouldn’t have expected to be spending more time with Eric Pickles.”

He said that while the pair “disagree politically over many things” they were united on the importance of the memorial.

“If I am able to leave my mark on anything or remembered for it I would consider it my greatest achievement.”

Mr Balls also discussed his decision to do Strictly Come Dancing, saying his wife, MP Yvette Cooper, who convinced him.

“I wasn’t keen but she said why would you turn down the biggest programme on television when politics is in chaos? I spoke to Jeremy Vine who said it was the best thing he has ever done.”

Mr Balls, who climbed Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief this year alongside a host of celebrities, said his children had warned him that “if I don’t get to the top and Little Mix do they will never let it down.”

The former MP assured the audience that he would not be doing “any more reality TV programmes.”

He said: “It is one thing to go from politics to reality TV and embarrass your children, but it is another thing to go from reality TV and become American president and embarrass your country again and again.”

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