Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis denounces ‘appalling anti-Semitism in Labour Party’

Loyal supporters are deserting Labour because of the issue, Mr Lewis says

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 27 September 2016 19:39 BST
Clive Lewis says it's been 'an appalling year for Jews in Labour'

Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis has denounced what he described as anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Mr Lewis – who clashed with Jeremy Corbyn over Trident renewal – condemned what he called “a quite appalling year for Jewish people”.

And he warned that loyal supporters are deserting Labour because of its “anti-Semitism problem”, citing the example of one of his own best friends.

Addressing a Jewish Labour Movement rally in Liverpool, Mr Lewis said: “I understand this has been a quite appalling year for Jewish people.

“One of my best friends, a lifelong Labour supporter, told me she wasn’t going to vote Labour any more until we sorted out our anti-Semitism problem. That hit me really hard. It really hit home to me how bad a situation – a problem – we had.”

Speaking to more than 100 people crammed into a small pub, Mr Lewis said that, as a black man, he experienced racism himself.

He said: “I can also empathise with what many Jewish people are going through. It’s not the same – but I can empathise. My message is this – socialism is about the emancipation of all people, or it is about the emancipation of none.”

Mr Lewis said he was often asked “what about Israel?”, to which he replied: “Why don’t you blame me for what Idi Amin did in Africa to the Asians? That’s in effect what you are doing when you blame Jewish people for what has happened there. There’s no place for it.”

A Jewish News journalist who attended the rally said: “It was a fantastic speech – completely unequivocal.”

Mr Lewis spoke before Monday’s clash with the unilateralist Labour leader, when his conference speech accepting Trident renewal was amended by autocue, minutes before it was delivered.

This week, Mr Corbyn has sought to assure Jewish Labour supporters of his commitment to stamping out anti-Semitism within Labour. He pledged to move ahead with implementing the recommendations of the Chakrabarti Report, published in the summer.

In a statement, Mr Corbyn said: “Let me be clear – I stand against all forms of prejudice and discrimination and will not tolerate any forms of it in our party. Anyone who is found to have been involved in anti-Semitic abuse or instances will be dealt with through our party structures.”

However, today, Mike Katz, the national vice-chairman of the Jewish Labour Movement was heckled in the conference hall when he called for immediate action to tackle anti-Semitism.

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