Jeremy Corbyn and Sadiq Khan taken to task at first-ever ‘antisemitism’ hustings

Event, organised by Campaign Against Antisemitism, featured speakers from the Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats and Reform UK


Campaign Against Antisemitism hustings on 24.06.24. Pictured: Campaign Against Antisemitism Chief Executive Gideon Falter (Left), Conservative Tom Tugendhat (Centre), Labour's Alex Norris (Right)

Security Minister Tom Tugendhat last night attacked the Labour Party for “normalising” antisemitism in the UK under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking at hustings organised by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) ahead of polling day on July 4, Tugendhat, who has Jewish heritage but is Catholic, decried the rise in antisemitism in the UK since October 7 and said that “antisemitism is the warning light of failure in any society”.

Asked if he had faith in Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, Tugendhat shifted the focus onto Labour’s Sadiq Khan.

He told the audience that “political direction” was “given to the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police by the Mayor of London. Blame the top, don’t blame the servant.”

Tugendhat told the packed-out room: “Even I, a practising Catholic, have experienced antisemitism because of my name.”

Labour’s Shadow Policing Minister Alex Norris paid tribute to the work of CST, especially in the aftermath of October 7 and said that both “anti-racism” and “anti-extremism” policies needed updating.

Norris, who is standing for re-election in Nottingham North and Kimberly, told the crowd that “university vice chancellors need to do more to protect Jewish students on campus”.

Challenged about Sir Keir Starmer’s comments last week that Corbyn would have made a better PM than Boris Johnson, Norris defended his and his leader’s decision to stay in the Labour Party in 2019 and said that “we wanted a Labour government”.

He told the room that “having voices of moderation and voices of tolerance” in the Labour Party at that time meant that the party was able to change in the way it has today. Starmer, Norris said, would “make difficult decisions within our party even when it is painful.”

The Lib Dems’ foreign affairs spokesperson Lord Jeremy Purvis said his party would match the current government’s record £54m funding for CST. He spoke of visiting Kibbutz Be’eri after October 7 and said that “the memories of that visit will never leave me.”

Reform UK’s Ben Habib blamed mass migration for the rise in antisemitism and sectarianism in the UK. Pressed by host CAA Chief Executive Gideon Falter over antisemitic comments made by a number of Reform UK candidates, Habib told the audience he “didn’t know” whether they were still party candidates.

All speakers backed plans for a Holocaust memorial to be built next to Parliament in Victoria Tower Gardens.

A CAA spokesperson told the JC: "Monday evening's event was the first ever hustings devoted exclusively to antisemitism. The scale of interest shows how important this issue is to the Jewish community. We were able to put questions to senior figures from the main national parties to understand what they propose to do to fight unprecedented levels of antisemitism were they to win power in July.

"The situation for British Jews is desperate, with urban centres becoming no-go zones for Jews during weekly anti-Israel protests that have persisted for eight months now. The party representatives were left in no doubt about that strength of feeling and the scale of the task ahead for whomever forms the next Government. The Jewish community leaves these hustings better informed about the parties asking for their votes, when it comes to antisemitism. We were proud to have hosted this unique event."

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