Labour Party still contains ‘toxicity’ despite end of EHRC special measures

Marie van der Zyl said it is ‘difficult to say’ antisemitism has been completely removed


Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl has said there is still “toxicity” within the Labour party but Sir Keir Starmer had shown “huge leadership” on tackling antisemitism.

Addressing the representative body’s monthly meeting, Ms van der Zyl defended her decision to introduce a speech from Sir Keir in the wake of the news that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has taken the Labour party out of special measures.

“I stressed in the speech that I’m not a member of a political party and it’s not an endorsement,” she said.

“But credit where credit is due, the leadership of the Labour party had worked extremely hard to deal with antisemitism.”

While it is good news that the EHRC has ended its monitoring of Labour, which was imposed in the wake of a devastating 2020 report on antisemitism within the party, the battle against anti-Jewish racism is not over, Ms van der Zyl said.

“This is a journey, the journey… has not ended, particularly at local level there's toxicity; there are still MPs, there are councillors. 

“I’m afraid it’s going to be difficult to say that antisemitism will be gone, it flourishes unfortunately throughout society.

“The Board will carry on as we have before, we will have engagement. We will call out people that conduct and say things that are unacceptable, we will refer this to the Labour Party. I know that they will take it seriously.”

Speaking following the EHRC’s announcement last week, Sir Keir said: “To all those who were hurt, who were let down, who were driven out of our party, who no longer felt it was their home, who suffered the most appalling abuse: Today, on behalf of the entire Labour Party, I say sorry.

“What you have been through can never be undone. Apologies alone cannot make it right”.

Speaking today, Ms van der Zyl added: “Our voice has been heard. And we will continue to use our voice to make sure that voters in the UK can vote according to their political persuasions, not because they are frightened of what might happen in the future, or their future in this country. 

“So we have to carry on the good fight, the good work, but we will be supportive and we will make sure that we do this across all political parties because antisemitism is across society.”

The Board of Deputies president was responding to a question from former Labour MP Louise Ellman, who said she will never forget the “shame” the party experienced under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

The EHRC decision was a “very great success” she claimed, but added: “The job is not yet done.”

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