Second Corbyn critic under disciplinary threat from Labour

Ian Austin, who has demanded more action over antisemitism, receives warning from party


The row over antisemitism in Labour continues to boil as it emerged over the weekend that a second MP critical of the leadership’s handling of the issue has been threatened with disciplinary action by the party.

Ian Austin, the MP for Dudley North and a supporter of Labour Friends of Israel, has been accused of “abusive conduct” after a confrontation with the party’s chairman Ian Lavery the week before last, the Observer reported.

The JC exclusively revealed their confrontation last week.

A similar disciplinary threat had already been made against Dame Margaret Hodge, MP for Barking, for calling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn “a racist and an anti-Semite” after the party’s national executive committee  defied a majority of its MPs and refused to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism.

Meanwhile, the Mail on Sunday has reported that the leader of Barnet Council is considering whether Mr Corbyn should be allowed to keep his allotment in the borough.

Mr Austin, whose adoptive father was a Czech Jewish refugee from the Nazis, has been outspoken in his calls for Labour to sort out its antisemitism “crisis”.

After he was threatened with an investigation and possible suspension, the Observer quoted him as saying: “Wouldn’t it be great if they dealt with the people responsible for racism as quickly as they dealt with the people who are understandably upset about it?”

He told BBC Radio 4 he had had a "heated conversation" with Mr Lavery. "Did I scream abuse at anybody? No I didn't."

He had called the NEC's decision not to accept the full IHRA definition "a disgrace".

Mr Austin told the BBC he was "ashamed at the Labour Party, I really am." 

The proposal to boot Mr Corbyn off his vegetable patch followed his denunciation by Dame Margaret.

The Mail on Sunday said that, according to official council minutes, Barnet’s Conservative leader Richard Cornelius wondered “ if he should be allowed to keep his allotment” in East Finchley.

But the paper speculated that it may not be in the council’s power as the land is administered by the Barnet Allotments Federation.

Mr Corbyn brought produce from his allotment to the notorious Jewdas Seder he attended earlier this year.

In another twist, Mr Corbyn is facing calls to explain himself for remarks he made in a television interview, suggesting that Israel could be responsible for a massacre of 16 Egyptian policeman six years ago.

The victims were killed by gunmen dressed as Bedouin nomads.

Mr Corbyn, interviewed by Lauren Booth on the Iranian government-backed channel Press TV, remarked, “In whose interest is it to kill Egyptians, other than Israel, concerned at the growing closeness of relationship between Palestine and the new Egyptian government?”

Ivor Caplin, chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement, quoted in the Observer, said that conspiracy theories underpinned a “huge swathe” of antisemitism.

Mr Corbyn needs “to provide clarity on his views on this conspiracy theory and any others he may have aired in the past,” he said.

The paper reported a Labour spokesman saying that “Jeremy’s speculation about the perpetrators of the attacks on the Egyptian border guards was based on previous well-documented incidents of killings of Egyptian forces by the Israeli military.”

Dave Rich, communications director of the Community Security Trust, has tweeted that the same Press TV programme contained a video interview with Abdul Aziz Umar, who received seven life sentences for helping to organise a Hamas suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2003 but was released in 2011.

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