Jeremy Corbyn’s failure on antisemitism will forever tarnish his reputation as a leader, the Jewish Labour Movement’s ex-parliamentary chair Ruth Smeeth has said.
Writing ahead of the Labour leader’s departure on Saturday, Ms Smeeth recalled in an article for Politics Home how she ‘‘sat in meetings with Corbyn as he refused to acknowledge that we had a problem or that he should take any responsibility for how the party dealt with antisemites.’’
She laid into the outgoing leader, who has claimed in his last days in office to claim the coronavirus pandemic showed his hard-left politics had been "proven absolutely right".
But Ms Smeeth writes: "I experienced the horror of being a Jewish female Labour MP at a time when it felt that the leadership of my party thought that Jews were fair game - something I still can’t believe I’m writing.
‘’While our position on Brexit cost us votes, the unresolved crisis of antisemitism nearly cost us our soul."
In a hard-hitting article, the former Stoke-on-Trent MP listed incidents such as the Tower Hamlets antisemitic mural, support for the likes of Ken Livingstone and the revelation over the Black September terrorist Munich Olympics wreath-laying episode.
Ms Smeeth writes: "For three years, nearly every week, we would see yet another antisemitism scandal."
But she says he should have acted earlier, rather than dismiss each allegation as a "factional attack then it would never have become a dominant issue."
Ms Smeeth adds: "We wouldn’t now have the ignominy of being investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for institutional racism – something that has only ever happened before to the BNP – and Margaret Hodge wouldn’t be the last woman standing.
"Choosing to ignore racism because you didn’t like the messenger and because it was politically expedient is truly unforgiveable."
Ms Smeeth concludes Mr Corbyn’s real legacy is to have ensured that "millions of people have a Tory MP for the first time and Boris Johnson has an unassailable majority in Parliament – to do with as he pleases."
Mr Corbyn's successor, likely to be Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer, will be announced with the results of the leadership ballot on April 4.