Len McCluskey, the head of the largest trade union in the UK, appears to have dismissed antisemitism in the Labour, blaming the “right-wing” media for creating the issue.
The leader of the Unite union, who has been a major backer of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn,said: “Let’s not kind of highlight too much division as though it’s a problem. It’s a problem because the right wing media try to make it a problem.”
Mr McCluskey continued: "That’s why we’ve had all the stuff flowing around about misogyny and antisemitism in the Labour Party to try and create an image that the Labour party is somehow a toxic party."
According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr McCluskey's comments, which have only just come to light, were made last week during a speech at the Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank.
After the event, he tweeted: “The media try to create more of a division than there is in our movement. @UKLabour the biggest party in Europe. Of course, there will be a range of views. But we deal with each other in a respectful manner and accept the majority view #newpolitics @resfoundation”
Over the past couple of years, the JC has documented a large number of claims of antisemitism within the Labour Party, both from members and elected officials.
This is not the first time that Mr McCluskey has appeared to downplay the issue. Last September, during Labour’s annual conference, he was asked if he recognised the suggestion that the party had a problem with antisemitism.
“No, I’ve never recognised that,” he responded.
“I believe it was mood music that was created by people who were trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.”
Last week, figures for 2017 released by the Community Security Trust (CST) showed incidents of antisemitism in the UK as being the highest on record – continuing a trend from 2016.
The report stated that “high incident numbers were sustained by a combination of factors, including an increase in all forms of recorded hate crime and publicity regarding alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.”