Plans for Jeremy Corbyn to give speech on Labour's antisemitism crisis at Jewish Museum collapse

Labour leader's team had hoped to use keynote address at symbolic venue to end row engulfing the party

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Friday 03 August 2018 12:01 BST
Jeremy Corbyn on anti-semitism in the Labour Party

Plans for Jeremy Corbyn to deliver a major antisemitism speech at the Jewish Museum London have been dropped after talks between the Labour leader’s team and the venue collapsed.

Mr Corbyn had hoped to use the speech, to an audience of rabbis and other Jewish community leaders, to try to put an end to the antisemitism row engulfing his party.

Representatives of Jewish community groups the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust were all due to be invited.

The Independent understands that the museum entered talks with Labour having assumed that the organisations had all agreed to attend the event.

However, when museum officials contacted them to discuss it, the groups said they had had no communication with Mr Corbyn’s team and knew nothing about the planned event.

The museum had also faced a backlash from some members of the Jewish community after it said it would be happy to host Mr Corbyn providing the event was “done carefully and sensitively”.

Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle newspaper, tweeted: “Can’t think of a time when I have had so many emails and texts in so short a space of time from people all saying the same thing: if Jewish Museum hosts Corbyn next week they will never set foot it in again.”

In a statement, the museum said: “The Jewish Museum London wishes to clarify that there are no plans for a Labour Party event to take place at the museum.”

A senior Labour source confirmed the event would not take place at the museum.

Mr Corbyn’s team are likely to attempt to find an alternative venue for the speech, which was provisionally scheduled to take place early next week. Some suggest the Labour leader could instead deliver a video message.

The Labour leadership is trying to put a stop to a barrage of criticism over its handling of antisemitism in the party.

The row reignited last month when Labour declined to adopt in a full an internationally recognised definition of antisemitism in its new code of conduct.

It deepened after Peter Willsman, an ally of Mr Corbyn on Labour’s ruling executive, was recorded claiming the dispute was the result of Jewish “Trump fanatics”.

Further reports in recent days have focused on the Labour leader’s own historic comments about Israel and his attendance at an event that compared the Jewish state to the Nazis.

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