Angela Smith

We’re not putting up with the poison of anti-Semitism anymore

Events over the last few days, triggered by the Jeremy Corbyn’s response to a Facebook post about an anti-Semitic mural, have concentrated the minds of Labour Party members.

For too long the mainstream left has chosen not to confront the fact that Labour has seen an exponential growth in anti-Semitic sentiment.

For too long we have chosen to mutter disapproval of this particularly virulent form of racism, rather than to confront it.

Now, however, it is no longer possible to ignore the reality that Labour is badly tainted by a strain of left-wing thought which prefers to deny Israel’s right to exist and which pursues the ancient conspiracy theories relating to the Jewish community.

It’s time to stand up to this and to insist that the leadership of the Labour Party should root it out.

Enough is enough.

That’s why last night’s Parliamentary Labour Party meeting was so important. First of all, many Labour MPs joined the demo on Parliament Green. Then they moved on to the PLP meeting, to take to the Party leadership the message they had heard so loudly and so clearly outside.

The meeting was powerful and emotional. Luciana Berger went first and got a standing ovation, even the Chair joined in. Then Louise Ellman gave another moving, stirring speech.

What followed was a series of contributions, all supportive of Luciana and Louise. Speeches that talked about solidarity and not putting up with the ‘poison’ of anti-Semitism anymore, about how our movement had been compromised, its great history sullied by a surge of hostility towards what they prefer to term as ‘Zionism’.

Colleagues talked about what we needed to see from the leadership. We made it clear we needed to see actions as well as words, actions which give us confidence that Corbyn and the people around him have finally understood the evils of anti-Semitism and the importance of removing it from within our ranks.

We want to see a Labour government, but not at any cost. We must stay true to our values. Labour has a long and proud history of standing up to anti-Semitism and it is our job now to make sure that we do not lose that proud tradition forever.

About the Author
Angela Smith is a Labour MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge
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