Make the Labour Party a hostile environment for antisemites

London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking at Chanukah in the Square (Credit: Marc Morris Photography  via Jewish News)
London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaking at Chanukah in the Square (Credit: Marc Morris Photography via Jewish News)

I want to start with an apology.

I’m sorry my political party, the Labour Party, has let down the Jewish community so catastrophically in recent years.  I’m sorry that so many Jewish voters felt betrayed at the General Election by a party they used to think was on their side and their political home.

And I’m sorry that despite constant efforts by me and others to put pressure on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour leadership, the poison of anti-Semitism was allowed to take root.

The post-mortem about why Labour lost the election in such a devastating fashion is now in full swing, with many different theories. But we know one thing with absolute clarity: Labour failed to deal with anti-Semitism and failed the Jewish community.

I’ve been a member of the Labour Party since I was 15 years old.  A big part of why I first joined was because I saw Labour as the best vehicle to break down barriers of discrimination and to stop the racism I witnessed, and often experienced myself, growing up.

I’ve always been proud, for example, that in the Battle of Cable Street of 1936 it was Labour members, as well as trade unionists and others, who bravely stood with Jewish Londoners against fascism.  For me, this represents what Labour is all about – standing up for the oppressed, for minorities, and trying to create a fairer society for everyone, regardless of race and religion.

So I find it utterly shameful and heart-breaking that, rather than being an ally and defending the Jewish community, Labour has come to be seen as the exact opposite – a threat.

Labour must now fundamentally change and seek to gain the trust of the Jewish community once again, however long it takes.  We have a moral duty to ensure we never again go into an election with a community feeling excluded and threatened. We must make the Labour Party a hostile environment for anti-Semites, rather than one where they can thrive.

As Mayor, I’ll continue to stand up for Jewish Londoners.  And as a Labour politician, I will do everything I can to ensure the next Labour leader immediately acts to deal with anti-Semitism, and brings an end to this appalling chapter in Labour’s history.

About the Author
Sadiq Khan is the Mayor of London
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