Joanna Lumley, John le Carré and other leading figures say they will not vote Labour because of antisemitism

Letter to the Guardian says Jeremy Corbyn is 'steeped in association' with Jew-hate


A group of 24 public figures including the actress Joanna Lumley and some of the countr'ys leading writers have written to the Guardian to say they would not vote Labour because of the party’s problem with antisemitism.

Expressing solidarity with the British Jewish community, the signatories include novelists John Le Carré, Fay Weldon and William Boyd, the actor Simon Callow and the former head of the Commission for Racial Equality Trevor Phiillps.

Their letter said the coming election for British Jews “contains a particular anguish: the prospect of a prime minister “steeped in association with antisemitism.

“Under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, Labour has come under formal investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission for institutional racism against Jews. Two Jewish MPs have been bullied out of the party. Mr Corbyn has a long record of embracing antisemites as comrades.”

As an issue, antisemitism has been relegated by Brexit, they said.

“But antisemitism is central to a wider debate about the kind of country we want to be. To ignore it because Brexit looms larger is to declare that anti-Jewish prejudice is a price worth paying for a Labour government.”

Opposition to racism “cannot include surrender in the fight against antisemitism,” they wrote.

“Yet that is what it would mean to back Labour and endorse Mr Corbyn for Downing Street. The path to a more tolerant society must encompass Britain’s Jews with unwavering solidarity.”

In response, the paper quoted a Labour spokesman as saying:  “It’s extraordinary that several of those who have signed this letter have themselves been accused of antisemitism, Islamophobia and misogyny. It’s less surprising that a number are Conservatives and Lib Dems."

On BBC News at Ten on Thursday, Mr Corbyn defended the party's record after he was challenged by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg over the party's selection of some candidates who had been found to have expressed antisemitic views.

"I have introduced very strong procedures into the party," Mr Corbyn said. "We go through it, we go through due diligence on candidates and where there are questions, they are brought before a group to answer those questions and then decisions are made. In some cases, candidates are removed."

Historian Tom Holland tweeted he had signed the letter "because, whatever Corbyn's virtues and merits, I think it's unconscionable that a potential prime minister should have expressed a wish to invite someone who propagated the blood libel to tea in the House of Commons".


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