Starmer takes swipe at Corbyn amid vow to remove 'stain' of antisemitism

Starmer criticised Corbyn's stances on Nato and business, and described last year's local elections victory in Barnet as 'the proudest moment of my leadership'


Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer took a swipe at his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn as he vowed to continue the work of removing the "stain" of antisemitism from the party.

In a speech at London Labour’s Regional Conference on Saturday, Mr Starmer implicitly criticised Mr Corbyn's stances on Nato, business, and fiscal policies, saying that part of his job when elected leader was to make the party "fit to serve our country".

He also vowed to continue the work of removing the "stain" of antisemitism from Labour, sharing a message from the Community Security Trust's (CST) Jonny Newton who said that in 2018 and 2019, the Labour Party was a "key driver" of anti-Jewish racism.

Addressing the conference, held in Tower Bridge, Mr Starmer said that when he was elected leader in April 2020, he "knew we had a huge task ahead".

"We had to change our party and prepare for power all in one go," he said. "Not change for change's sake - change with a purpose to make our Labour Party fit to serve our country.

"That's why we had to support Nato and show it's non-negotiable, show we want business to thrive and prosper, understand the importance of sound money, country first, party second. But most of all - it's why we had to rip antisemitism out by its roots."

He said that antisemitism had been on his mind as the country came together this week to remember the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, and he reflected on the "burden of anxiety and pain that Jewish communities still carry as part of that history".

He then described the work of the CST, explaining how they work every day to protect Jewish communities from hate and violent attacks: "This is the awful reality Jewish communities still face in Britain. The work of the Community Security Trust is vital."

Explaining what Mr Newton, who works as Head of Government Affairs and External Relations at CST, said, Mr Starmer told the conference: "He says in 2018 and 2019, Labour-related antisemitism was a key driver of sustained anti-Jewish hatred. That's the stain we are trying so hard to remove from our party."

But he said that now, Mr Newton "praises the work" done since 2020: "Meticulously developing and implementing new policies, warning against complacency and no equivocation. Let me clear - this work never stops. Our commitment to fighting all forms of hate and discrimination never stops. Never again never stops."

He went on to say that if Labour stops in the fight to eradicate antisemitism, then Labour would "forgo the right to change our communities and our cities and our country".

Mr Starmer then described last year's local elections victory in Barnet as "the proudest moment of my leadership".

"So I say to Jewish communities there and everywhere; we know we must never let up, and we won't," he declared. "But that moment in Barnet, I felt for the first time in a while that Labour could return the gaze of the British people with confidence. That's the foundation we've laid together. And now we've got to build on it."

Jeremy Corbyn was Leader of the Labour Party from 2015 to 2019 and led the party to its worst electoral defeat since 1935.

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission conducted an investigation into antisemitism in the party under Mr Corbyn's leadership and found "serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints across the Labour Party".

Although Mr Corbyn said after publication of the report that "one antisemite is one too many", he continued to insist that the scale of antisemitism in the party was "dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”

As a result, Mr Starmer suspended the whip from his predecessor and said last month that he does not "see the circumstances in which Jeremy Corbyn will stand as a Labour candidate" at the next election.

Although a new Labour candidate for the Islington North constituency has yet to be selected, Mr Corbyn said last month that his local party was "concerned" by reports that he would not be able to stand as a Labour candidate, adding that he "should never have been suspended in the first place".

READ MORE: Keir Starmer rules out Jeremy Corbyn standing as Labour candidate again

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