Corbyn: Labour’s antisemitism problem was ‘actually quite small’

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Corbyn: Labour’s antisemitism problem was ‘actually quite small’

Former Labour leader tells Times Radio he would like 'all military alliances disband' after being quizzed about NATO

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Jeremy Corbyn on Times Radio 20/04/22 (Twitter screenshot)
Jeremy Corbyn on Times Radio 20/04/22 (Twitter screenshot)

Jeremy Corbyn has defended his record on Labour antisemitism and downplayed the extent of the problem in the party under his leadership in a new radio interview.

Asked by Times Radio presenter John Pienaar about his response to the EHRC report into antisemitism, Corbyn stood by his claim that the problem had been “exaggerated and politically motivated.”

In an interview aired on Wednesday afternoon, during the 4pm drive time show, the Islington North MP said he would “defend Labour Party members who opinion polls showed at that time the public opinion was that sort of one third of Labour Party members were somehow rather antisemitic.”

Corbyn then added: “The reality was it less than one percent.”

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Asked if he was prepared to make a renewed “apology or qualification” over his response to antisemitism in Labour under his watch, Corbyn said: “Look, antisemitism is vile, evil and wrong under any circumstances.”

He insisted he had been the one to introduce processes into the party that would ensure there was a “hearing” and “if necessary, sanctions could be taken” against those accused of antisemitism.

Corbyn then admitted, in what he appeared to suggest was a positive result, that the numbers who went through this disciplinary process “was actually quite small.”

In comments that further illustrated the difference in the ideology held by that of the current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, and his predecessor, Corbyn was asked by Pienaar whether he believed Britain should leave NATO.

He said:”I would want to see a world where we start to disband all military alliances.”

Confirming that while he doesn’t blame Nato for Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Corbyn asked: “Do military alliances bring peace… or encourage each other?”

Asked if he would now consider forming his own political party, or running as an independent candidate at the next election he said: “I don’t know what the future is going to bring.”

Corbyn also appeared to criticise the direction Labour has taken under Starmer’s leadership saying “to win the next election, you have to appeal to people.”

He suggested Labour had abandoned policies that would cause “changes in the power structures within our society.”

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