Labour leadership candidate Jess Phillips has vowed to rid the party of “anti-Jewish hate”, which she says was “far too common” under Jeremy Corbyn — as the party’s failure to tackle antisemitism was the subject of furious debate in the first leadership hustings on Tuesday night.
Writing for this week's JC, the Birmingham Yardley MP says that if chosen she will “do everything I can” to win back the trust of the Jewish community — including “working with the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies to deliver on their plan of action.”
In a clear attack on the pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice For Labour group, who have repeatedly defended the current leader over antisemitism claims, Ms Phillips, who last month spoke at the Limmud Festival, adds that under her leadership she would ensure the Jewish Labour Movement is the “sole Jewish affiliate.”
Addressing the rise of antisemitism in her party, Ms Phillips writes: “Anti-Jewish hate, conspiracy theories and abuse have become far too common in parts of the Labour Party. And that’s devastating for all of us who joined the Labour movement because we’re anti-racist and there are lots of us.
“The majority of Labour Party members aren’t antisemitic but those that are need to be expelled immediately. There is no place for hate in my party.”
Ms Phillips, who is standing alongside Sir Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, Emily Thornberry and Clive Lewis, also issues a devastating verdict on her party’s current disciplinary processes.
She writes: “None of our systems work for racism or sexual harassment. They aren’t independent. And they don’t protect the victims of abuse.”
Describing the day that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission announced they were investigating Labour over claims of “institutional antisemitism” as “one of the blackest days in the history of my Party”, Ms Phillips vows to “implement fully every single recommendation” made by the equalities watchdog when they publish their findings.
Jeremy Corbyn’s successor will be confirmed on April 4.
The party’s failure to tackle antisemitism within its ranks under Mr Corbyn was raised at the first leadership hustings, on Tuesday night in Westminster where the party’s 203 MPs congregated.
The leadership hopefuls were put on the spot after Halifax MP Holly Lynch asked them directly: “Why do you think we have a problem with antisemitic hate in our party?
“What have you done until now to tackle it? What will you do as leader?”
Current shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey – seen by many as the ‘continuity Corbyn’ candidate – was accused of “staggering hypocrisy” by colleagues as she said Labour “owed Jewish people an apology” at a leadership hustingsin parliament.
Ahead of the hustings, Ms Long Bailey appeared on ITV News and said of Mr Corbyn’s leadership: “I’d give him 10 out of 10, because I respect him and I supported him all the way through”.
One Labour MP told the JC: “Either Rebecca is completely deluded or just plain silly. She was nothing but an outright Corbyn loyalist for the best part of four years.
"She is partly responsible for the failure of Labour to stem the tide of antisemitism within its ranks. How she can now claim to be concerned about an issue that cost us the election - it’s staggering hypocrisy.”
In what was widely regarded as a strong performance, Wigan MP Lisa Nandy told her colleagues she believed there had been a “collective leadership failure to acknowledge the antisemitism crisis”.
In an attack on Ms Long Bailey, Ms Nandy added there were “people on this stage” who had failed to back the IHRA definition.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry claimed that in shadow cabinet meetings only she and Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer had raised the issue of antisemitism.
Sir Keir also took an aggressive stance over antisemitism in Tuesday evening’s near two-hour session, telling colleagues he “did not want a single voter to raise Labour’s failure on antisemitism on the doorstep” at the next election.
Both Sir Keir and Ms Thornberry said those guilty of anti-Jewish racism should be “kicked out” without any “second chances.”
The first part of the leadership race requires each contender to win more than 21 MPs. On Wednesday Sir Keir became the first candidate to reach this number and secure his place on the ballot paper.