Labour has no monopoly on antisemitism, says top QC

International Law expert and East West Street author Phillipe Sands says voting for Hampstead & Kilburn Labour candidate Tulip Siddiq does not also signal support for Jeremy Corbyn


Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party “does not have a monopoly on antisemitism”, leading barrister and author Phillipe Sands has claimed.

The Jewish QC, who is an expert on international law and whose book East West Street was published earlier this year, argued that there were “elements within Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservative Party” who had aligned themselves with viewpoints that were problematic to the Jewish community.

Speaking in support of his local Hampstead and Kilburn constituency Labour candidate Tulip Siddiq, he acknowledged that Jew-hate within Labour " is plainly an issue"

But he added: “There are aspects across the political spectrum - not just Labour, in the Conservatives also, in the Liberal Dems and other parties in which attacking Israel is sometimes a vehicle for taking forward a form of antisemitism. I am acutely conscious of that. “But the Labour Party does not have a monopoly on antisemitism.

“I think you don’t have to scratch very far with the other political parties. If potential voters think not voting Labour is going to save them from the rise, from the scourge of antisemitism, then think again.”

A Hampstead resident, and  former active Labour Party member who resigned in 2001 in protest at the Tony Blair-led party’s link to big business, Mr Sands said he had voted Lib Dem and the 2005 and 2010 elections but backed Ed Miliband in 2015.

But the lawyer, a member of the Matrix Chambers in London who has appeared before the European Court and International Court of Justice, said he rejected the argument that support of the Labour local candidate signified support for Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

He said: "You should not assume my support of Tulip Siddiq  has any other ramifications.

“I have not expressed support at national level for any political party.

“Personally, and I want to be careful what I say, I don't want to be making allegations of who I think is and who I think isn't antisemitic.

“I've got pretty clear views and I think there are people within the public domain who are antisemitic and that worries me greatly - and I will call it out.

“In Tulip - she is the very opposite of antisemitic. She is deeply inclusive, she needs to be given credit for that.

And I respect her decision to resign her position over Article 50 - it was principled and courageous.

"People within the Labour Party of her quality need to be given support."

He added:  “I will offer an opinion on Mr Corbyn - I don't actually think he is antisemitic, that I will definitely say.  And any suggestion Shami Chakrabarti is antisemitic is just plain stupid– although I say the report she authored should have gone much much further."

Mr Sands describes his book East West Street  as a "rallying call against antisemitism - and what can be done".

It  recently won the prestigious Baillie Gifford Prize.

He said he wrote it to address anxiety over xenophobia, nationalism, racism, antisemitism. "It is something I feel very strongly about - you need to hold people who express views that cause us anxiety to account."

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