UK Politics

Labour’s antisemitism row at ‘tipping point’ – Hodge

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By Aubrey Allegretti, political reporter

Labour has been warned its antisemitism row is at a "tipping point" and "many people" could quit unless it takes the issue more seriously.

Dame Margaret Hodge, a Jewish MP, hit out at the party's handling of alleged cases of antisemitism saying it had become "secretive and intimidating".

She criticised leader Jeremy Corbyn and his allies and challenged them to "stop thinking they've got everything right and they don't have to listen to the rest of us".

Image: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised by Dame Margaret Hodge

Top officials were also urged by shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry not to pursue legal action against whistleblowing former Labour staffers, some of whom have broke Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs).

A party spokesperson told Sky News it takes all antisemitism complaints "extremely seriously" and was "committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms".

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Dame Margaret told Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday she would stay in Labour and fight but that there were "many more people who will feel so uncomfortable within the Labour Party that they can no longer remain within".

She criticised Labour's response to a Panorama documentary earlier this week, which saw former workers claim they were undermined in their efforts to tackle antisemitism in the party.

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It was "utterly deplorable and an abuse of power" for the leadership to "pursue these people with lawyers" to "shut them up", the Barking and Dagenham MP said.

She also defended deputy leader Tom Watson, who has piled pressure on Labour's general secretary Jennie Formby to do more to tackle antisemitism and is currently receiving chemotherapy.

Dame Margaret called for people to "leave her to cope with the treatment that she's undergoing" but added: "You cannot fail to deal with this issue and Tom Watson is absolutely right to be calling this out".

A demonstrator holding a painting saying "For the many not the Jew"
Image: Labour says it takes all complaints of antisemitism seriously

Ms Thornberry also defended Ms Formby, but cautioned against threatening the whistleblowers.

"We shouldn't be going for the messengers, we should be listening to the message," she told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"Nobody can pretend there isn't an ongoing problem in the Labour Party with antisemitism."

Emily Thornberry, Labour MP
Image: Emily Thornberry told Labour not to 'go for the messenger'

Two of the former staffers are themselves planning to take legal action against Labour because they say Labour defamed them inRead More – Source