Labour Party denies claims Jeremy Corbyn didn't do enough to counter anti-Semitism reports

Former adviser Harry Fletcher says the Labour leader got angry and dealt with each incident of perceived anti-Semitism as an isolated event

Rachael Revesz@RachaelRevesz
Sunday 23 April 2017 14:02
Mr Corbyn has been accused of not proactively fighting the perception of anti-Semitism
Mr Corbyn has been accused of not proactively fighting the perception of anti-Semitism

Jeremy Corbyn did little to counter reports of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and got "angry" when his team told him he needed to improve relations with the Jewish community, a former adviser has claimed.

Harry Fletcher told told The Sunday Times that the Labour leader was “uneasy” about being interviewed by the Jewish Chronicle and “did not understand” why he needed to be completely transparent about his past dealings with Hamas and Hezbollah.

Mr Fletcher served leader’s communications and strategy adviser and was part of Mr Corbyn's four-strong leadership campaign team in the summer of 2015.

His claims have been strongly denied by a Labour Party spokesman.

“What angered me most was their inability to understand why they’re perceived as anti-Semitic,” wrote Mr Fletcher, who worked alongside Mr Corbyn, his son, Sebastien, and now shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.

“Jeremy believes he is completely non-discriminatory. He would never be hostile to someone in the street. But he is, if you like, anti-Semitic along the institutionalised lines of the Metropolitan police in the 1990s, when they messed up the Stephen Lawrence investigation.”

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He did not give a concrete example that Mr Corbyn was anti-Semitic. But instead he stressed that was the perception of Mr Corbyn and the party, and Mr Fletcher criticised his reaction to those reports.

"I’d liaise regularly with Jewish Labour groups," he wrote. "They wanted to work with Jeremy. I’d suggest to him about how he might build bridges with the Jewish community, and none of it ever happened.

"It was very, very frustrating, and it just got worse. Every attempt to improve relationships did well for a day or two, and then something or somebody would sabotage it. Every time, what was required was a swift response, but it just never happened."

A Labour Party spokesman directed The Independent to a tweet, which read: “Sunday times attack story from a source from another political party who never worked for Labour. Not serious.”

Mr Fletcher insisted, however, that “nothing happened” despite his many attempts to collaborate with Jewish labour groups, and accused Mr Corbyn of dismissing people as “complainers” and dealing with each negative incident as a separate case rather than acknowledging a broader theme.

The party has been dogged with accusations of anti-Semitism under Mr Corbyn's leadership.

Former mayor of London Ken Livingstone narrowly avoided expulsion from the party earlier this month after he repeatedly insisted Hitler supported Zionism. The Labour National Executive Committee said they would re-assess the decision.

Shami Chakrabarti, the barrister and former head of human rights campaign group Liberty, was also commissioned in 2016 to investigate reports of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

She found that there was occasionally a "toxic atmosphere" but did not rule the Party was anti-Semitic.

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Mr Fletcher said he was "dismayed" to learn she became a member of that party in May, followed by a peerage in September.

Mr Fletcher wrote that the alleged failing between the party and the Jewish community could be resolved “if the will is there”, and he praised the leader for his “inspiring” first campaign event of the election last week.

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