Leigh Observer Column - 26th February 2019

“I cannot remain in a Party that I have, today, come to the sickening conclusion is institutionally anti-Semitic.” This is what Luciana Berger MP said when she left the Labour Party. She has been hounded by members of her constituency Labour Party in Liverpool and by Labour activists nationwide.

Although Brexit was part of the motivation for a group of Labour MPs to leave the Labour Party last week, the endemic anti-Semitism within Labour was the biggest factor. They had tried to challenge this insidious problem, which is eating away at the soul of the Labour Party, but they concluded that the fight was lost and Mr Jeremy Corbyn and his followers had won.

Many Labour MPs resigned from their front bench after Mr Corbyn was overwhelming elected leader by the party membership – beating Andy Burnham by a margin of three to one. The Labour membership, a year later, gave Mr Corbyn an even greater victory in his second leadership race.

Although they have seen what he is about, by remaining in the party the majority of Labour Party members, councillors and MPs demonstrate their continued support of Mr Corbyn’s values and his bid to be Prime Minister.

We often hear about Labour values but when Ian Austin MP resigned he said “I don’t think I could look at my dad in the eye if I stayed in the Labour Party”. Members of Mr Austin’s family had been murdered in Treblinka. Loyal Corbynista, Chris Williamson MP, said about Mr Austin, “he’s certainly no loss”.

Mr Austin also said, “I’m leaving because of racism” within the Labour Party.

You may remember that Luciana Berger MP was the first to identify the anti-Semitic trope on a mural in London which was to be removed, however Mr Corbyn wanted to protect it. The mural showed rich bankers making their money off the back of the workers – classic socialist and Labour narratives. For anyone with eyes to see, it was equally clear that the rich bankers were portrayed as Jews.

You don’t have to look far back in history to see parallels.

Did Mr Corbyn see or understand what to Ms Berger was obvious? He positions himself to be the nation’s foremost anti-racism campaigner but cannot see it when it is directed against Jews. Mr Corbyn’s blindness, by choice or otherwise, has enabled Labour activists and members to get the Party to the point where their moderate MPs believe it to be irredeemable.

It is not just Labour MPs, councillors and party members who see Labour as being institutionally racist. There are also wider concerns in the Jewish communities across Britain, the second largest of which is around North Manchester.

During the Summer last year, the Chief Rabbi and a number of Greater Manchester MPs, including me, were invited to speak at a rally in the centre of Manchester specifically because of the growing concerns over anti-Semitism. We heard how there is an increase in the targeting of Jews in words and in violent action. Synagogues are now routinely protected by security guards and the problem is only getting worse.

The rally was attended by over 2,000 people and many were from the local Jewish community. People do not attend rallies like that without a cause and the cause is growing fear, especially if Mr Corbyn becomes Prime Minister.

Some Labour members say that they will stay with the Party and change it from within. How can they think that they can do it in the future when they have failed up until now? The extremists lead the Party in Parliament and have taken over all its ruling bodies. They also control the vast majority of constituency Labour Party associations.

If the Labour Party has no place for the well-respected MP Frank Field and is purging itself of many others, then do you share its values? It is as clear as can be that the traditional Labour Party of and for the workers is dead and something nasty is now in its place.