How can Labour exorcise its demon?

It’s been a wounding week for the Labour Party and a surreal one for British Jews.

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone’s odious Hitler defence of Bradford West MP Naz Shah’s Facebook faux pas has plunged the UK into a profound national debate on anti-Semitism.

What is it? When does criticism of Israel become it? And can you get away with referencing the Nazi dictator in defence of it? All the while our community has looked on aghast, wondering when and where all this might end.

After days of damaging revelations, Jeremy Corbyn finally announced measures to crack down on anti-Semitism in his party, including a new “code of conduct” to make clear “for the first time” within the rules that Labour will not tolerate such hate.

Corbyn has also announced the establishment of an inquiry to be chaired by the former director of Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti.

There are considerable reservations about the new inquiry’s make-up and processes.

Who will sit on it alongside Chakrabarti and Professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism? What are its terms of reference? Who will it ultimately report to? And what tangible impact could it possibly have?

There are many questions to answer and no clear path ahead for a party facing some profoundly alarming problems.

Time will tell if these new processes can help to exorcise the demon.

About the Author
Richard has been editor of Jewish News since 2009. He is one of Britain's leading Jewish voices, writing for The Times, Independent, New Statesman and many other titles. Richard previously worked at the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, edited the Boston Jewish Advocate and created the Channel 4 TV series Jewish Mum Of The Year. In July 2022 he was named one of “39 People Making Waves in the Jewish Media Sphere” by the website Future of Jewish.