Starmer: Our kids are being brought up to know their Jewish backgrounds

Labour leader tells Desert Island Discs of 'long trdition of family and faith'


Sir Keir Starmer has confirmed that his children are being brought up to know their Jewish family background  – but has insisted this was not a factor in his determination to “root out antisemitism” from the Labour Party.

In an interview on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs show, Sir Keir spoke further about his wife Victoria’s Jewish family – having first discussed the topic in an interview with the JC ahead of his successful bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader earlier this year.

Asked by interviewer Lauren Laverne about the publication of the recent Equalities And Human Rights Commission report into Labour’s antisemitism crisis and the impact his wife’s family background had played in his response, he said the two were “divorced in this sense”.

But Sir Keir then said: “It is perfectly true that my wife’s father is Jewish -  they came from Poland - and my wife’s mother converted when they got married.  

“There is a long tradition of family and faith there.

“We observe some of the practices, for example Friday night prayers, occasionally with my wife’s father – her mum sadly passed away earlier this year.”

He then added: “My wife in particular wants our children to know the faith of her family.”

The Labour leader and his wife, who is a solicitor,  have two children together.

But he said their Jewish background  “was removed from my principled decision to tackle antisemitism. I think that is a matter of values”.

Sir Keir stressed that he could not comment on the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn over the former party leader’s claim following the EHRC report that “political opponents” had exaggerated the problem of antisemitism in the party.

But he gave some idea as to why anyone seeking to challenge the EHRC report’s recommendations would be seen as having clearly breached party rules.

“I wanted us as a party to acknowledge what had gone wrong,” said Sir Keir. “To apologise in no uncertain terms. To renew the commitment to root out antisemitism. To draw a line and move forward.

“I didn’t want that day to end the way that it did. I had no intention of purging anyone. I have no intention. We are far better when we are united – but if we don’t tackle antisemitism then we don’t deserve to win.”

Sir Keir also spoke of  regret at not being close to his late father, who he described as a "difficult" and "complicated" man.

He said his father worked as a toolmaker in a factory and would work 14-hour days, coming home for an hour at 5pm "for his tea" before returning to work again in the evening.

"But he had this utter devotion and commitment to my mum," he said.

He told the programme his mother had lived with the autoimmune condition Still's Disease since she was 11.

Sir Keir said his mother died just a few weeks before he was elected into Parliament as an MP in 2015, and his father died a couple of years ago.


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