Ian Austin condemns Labour MPs who say they oppose antisemitism but work to make Corbyn PM

MP, who quit Labour over antisemitism, says Labour leader 'really does believe that he is the victim in all of this'


MP Ian Austin has called on his former colleagues in Labour who claim they are actively opposed to antisemitism to be doing “much, much more” in their fight against leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In a passionate address to the Board of Deputies on Sunday, Mr Austin said: “If you are not in politics to stand up and tell the truth on something as fundamental as racism – why are you in politics?”

Mr Austin, who quit Labour in February in part over antisemitism, said it was not good enough for the party's MPs to tell him privately that they were opposed to antisemitism – or even to send tweets saying they were attempting to take a stand on the issue.

He said that some of these MPs were “even serving as part of his front bench team, even in the shadow cabinet, actively helping him become Prime Minister.”

Mr Austin added: “Surely they know in their hearts he has allowed the party to be poisoned by racism and extremism and that he himself has said things which are racist themselves. He is unfit to lead the Labour Party and certainly unfit to become our Prime Minister.”

Later answering questions from Deputies, Mr Austin said: “Look I’m Labour – the values that brought me into the party are the values that made me leave.”

In a further damning attack on the Labour leader, Mr Austin said that Mr Corbyn “really does believe, I promise, that he is the victim in all of this.”

He added that Mr Corbyn “is much angrier with the people who complaint about racism against Jewish people than he is with the people who are responsible with it.

“He is so convinced of his personal virtue and impeccable anti-racist credentials he thinks it is impossible to believe he is guilty of any of this.”

Mr Austin cited last year’s Enough Is Enough demonstration against Labour antisemitism as an example of how well he believed the community had stood up to the problem.

Pointedly, he called for “discipline and unity" among the Jewish communal organisations as the fight continued.

Mr Austin also reiterated why he had taken up the issue of fighting Labour antisemitism so passionately himself.

He paid tribute to his late father, a Jewish Holocaust survivor, who taught him the values of opposing all prejudice.

But Mr Austin said: “I’m not Jewish myself, I represent a town with no Jewish community at all. Some Labour MPs say ‘Ian why have you picked this fight?’

“I think if Luciana Berger, Louise Ellman, Margaret Hodge or Ruth Smeeth - they don’t have a choice about confronting antisemitism.

“I think all of you don’t have a choice, so people like me I don’t have a choice either.”

Mr Austin added that you “don’t have to be sleeping rough, sleeping on the streets to campaign against homelessness” nor “be Muslim to be appalled by Islamophobia.”

He said: “I don’t have to be Jewish to know antisemitism is wrong. I have never been more certain of anything in politics. It’s a basic question of right or wrong.”

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