Sir Keir Starmer: 'It's right I've had lots to say on antisemitism'

The Labour leader tells the JC it is 'certainly not the case ' that he is failing to tackle 'all forms of racism' in his party


Sir Keir Starmer has hit back at claims that he has prioritised tackling antisemitism in Labour while failing to deal with allegations of other forms of racism in his party.

Speaking to the JC on Thursday, Sir Keir said ‘’it is certainly not the case’’ that there is a so-called "hierarchy of racism', as has been claimed by some on the Labour hard-left.

He said: "We are tackling all forms of racism in the party.

‘’I have certainly had lots to say about antisemitism in my opening few weeks as leader of the Labour Party, and rightly so.

‘’It was very important for me to make that public apology for the failure of  Labour to deal with antisemitism and to build bridges with  Jewish community leaders and ask then to work with me.’’

In April, a leaked report into Labour’s handling of antisemitism, which was asked for by previous General Secretary Jennie Formby, outlined serious instances of anti-Jewish racism amongst members.

But it also contained allegations that party staff had used inappropriate language to discuss Black MPs such as Diane Abbott and Dawn Butler.

Some on the left have used the report to claim there is no focus on anti-Black racism in the party – unlike the repeated statements from Sir Keir on tackling antisemitism.

He told the JC; "On anti-racism, as soon as that internal report was leaked myself and Angela Rayner set up an independent inquiry.

‘’And that inquiry will go wherever the evidence leads it. We will act on it as soon as we get a report.

‘’We want that report swiftly which means we hope by the middle of July. We are taking it extremely seriously as we do any form of racism in the party or elsewhere.’’

Asked about how long his efforts to kick out the antisemites from Labour might take, Sir Keir said: "I want that process to be swift and effective.

‘’That’s why I have already taken steps with the outstanding caseload to move that through.

‘’But I don’t just want a Labour Party that has an effective disciplinary process, although I do want that of course.

‘’I want a Labour Party that hasn’t got antisemitism in the first place.’’

He added that he had joined Labour’s Chipping Barnet candidate Emma Whysall knocking on doors in the constituency at the last General Election.

He said he saw ‘’how deeply’’ the hurt over antisemitism went amongst the Jewish community.

Meanwhile the Labour leader also used an online Zoom conference meeting with voters in Barnet to stress his belief that Labour needs to be a seen as a ‘’proudly patriotic’’ party.

Responding to a question from someone who said they were a ‘’traditional Labour voter’’ who had been put off by the ideology of the previous leader Jeremy Corbyn, Sir Keir said: "We need to be proudly patriotic, and I don’t think there is any real issue here. I am in the Labour Party along with many others because we want to improve our  country and make it even better than it is now.

‘’So I don’t think there’s any tension here. I think the Labour Party should be proudly patriotic.

‘’I am very patriotic and proud to be patriotic. I think being Labour is being patriotic.’’

Asked if he was critical of Mr Corbyn’s views around patriotism, Sir Keir said: "I don’t mention Jeremy, I’m telling you what I think.

‘’I’m constantly being asked to look backwards and identify with a historical  Labour figure. My job is to take us on a journey - to transform our party that has lost four elections in a row into one that can win an election.’’


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