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Jeremy Corbyn has ‘got to change’ and urgently address issue of antisemitism, says Gordon Brown

'This cannot keep going on as a running sore and it's not because it's an embarrassment, it is because it is simply wrong' former Labour prime minister warns

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 15 August 2018 19:08 BST
Former PM Gordon Brown appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival
Former PM Gordon Brown appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (Getty)

Jeremy Corbyn has “got to change” and urgently address concerns over antisemitism in the Labour Party, former prime minister Gordon Brown has warned.

Calling on the Labour leader to adopt the full international definition of antisemitism, Mr Brown said the current row over the issue cannot “keep on going on as running sore”.

His intervention comes as the party faces escalating pressure to endorse the definition of antisemitism drawn up the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) without amendments.

In its agreed code of conduct on antisemitism, the party omitted four examples from the IHRA’s list of unacceptable behaviour, but Labour says the majority are covered elsewhere in their document.

Last week Tom Watson, the party’s deputy leader, became the most senior figure in Labour to back the call to adopt the full text alongside the general secretaries of three trade union organisations.

It also follows an exclusive poll for The Independent showed a majority of the public believes Labour has handled recent allegation of antisemitism within the party’s ranks badly.

The survey found that just 9 per cent believed Labour had handled allegations of antisemitism well, while 60 per cent did not, and 30 per cent said they did not know.

Appearing at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, the Labour prime minister between 2007 and 2010 was asked whether Mr Corbyn was a fit and proper person to be prime minister.

“Jeremy Corbyn has got to change,” Mr Brown replied. ”He cannot sustain particularly what he is saying about the international agreement on what we do in our attitudes to both the Holocaust and to Israel.

“I predict to you that’s going to change within a few weeks. I believe that it will change but even that will not be enough.

“You have got to show by your actions not simply by saying some words that you understand the deep hurt that has been caused. I’m very clear about that.”

Mr Brown said the Labour Party had a problem with antisemitism which has to be dealt with, adding: “Within a month, within a few days we have to approve the international recommendations about how we deal with questions about the Holocaust and it’s absolutely central to the to progress of a democratic society that is tolerant and liberal that a party like the Labour party comes out strongly against any antisemitism within the far right.

“I’m not going to predict what is going to happen within the Labour Party ... but this problem has got to be sorted out and it’s got to be sorted out immediately.”

He continued: “This cannot keep going on as a running sore and it’s not because it’s an embarrassment, it is because it is simply wrong.

“The persecution that has been suffered by the Jewish community must never be forgotten. It is something that has got to be remembered every time we see vicious actions and discrimination and prejudice in different communities around the world.”

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