Labour frontbencher backs party's critics in antisemitism definition row

A fresh row erupted this week after Labour declined to adopt the full definition of antisemitism


Opposition Labour Party Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer attends the second day of the Labour Party Conference in Brighton on September 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Labour frontbencher Sir Keir Starmer has backed critics of the party’s decision to adopt only part of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, saying action should be taken “sharpish”.

A row erupted this week after Labour’s national executive committee (NEC) drafted a new disciplinary policy which omits certain examples of Jew-hatred, as outlined by the internationally-recognised code.

Communal bodies condemned the party this week, while Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree, said it would hand antisemites a “get out of jail free card”.

Distancing himself from the NEC’s decision, on Sunday Sir Keir told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that he believed in the “full definition”, calling on the party to consult with the Jewish community further.

Labour's shadow Brexit Secretary said: “Councils, institutions across the country have accepted the full definition. I think that's the right position to be in.

“I would urge everybody within the Labour Party to listen to the voices that have come out in recent days and get to a position where we are supporting the full definition. We have to very clear about our position on this.

“I think we need to reflect on what's been said in the last few days and if we are not in a position of supporting the full definition we need to get into that position and sharpish.”

Adam Langleben, a former Labour councillor in Barnet, North West London, said the party’s failure to adopt the full IHRA definition of antisemitism means it is “no longer an anti-racist party”.

Mr Langleben has been a vocal critic of the Labour leadership, arguing that its inaction on antisemitism contributed to its failure to win a majority in recent Barnet Council elections, in which he also lost his own seat.

He tweeted: “You allow victims to define the prejudice they experience. It is fundamental to anti-racism. If they do it to the Jews then they will do it to others next.”

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