Rachel Reeves: Corbyn allowed ‘downplaying, excusing, or denial of antisemitism’

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Rachel Reeves: Corbyn allowed ‘downplaying, excusing, or denial of antisemitism’

In a speech delivered to the annual Labour Friends of Israel lunch, shadow chancellor Reeves, highlights ex-leader's failure over antisemitism, and says 'this is why Jeremy Corbyn is no longer a member of the parliamentary Labour Party."

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Rachel Reeves addresses the LFI lunch
Rachel Reeves addresses the LFI lunch

Rachel Reeves has launched an outspoken attack on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour saying “too often Jewish MPs, particularly women were left out in the cold to defend themselves.”

In a keynote speech delivered to the Labour Friends of Israel lunch, the shadow chancellor also suggested that under former leader the “downplaying, excusing or the denial of the problem of antisemitism” had been tolerated.

Reeves added: “That is why Jeremy Corbyn is no longer a member of the parliamentary Labour Party.”

In her speech to a packed room of guests at Central Hall, Westminster, Reeves used a near 30 minute long speech to speak of what she said was Labour’s “special relationship with the Jewish community”.

And she launched an impassioned appeal for ex-MPs such as Luciana Berger and Joan Ryan to return to the party they quit as a result of rampant antisemitism.

With ex-Labour MPs Berger and Ryan in the room, Reeves praised Dame Margaret Hodge, who stands down ahead of the next election, for her continued work in parliament.

She also praised current leader Sir Keir Starmer for his efforts on rooting out antisemitism and noted how Ruth Smeeth had now returned to the Lords, and that Dame Louise Ellman was also back in the party.

Reeves said that for “almost five years I watched in dismay and disgust as my party failed to stand with the victims of antisemitism.

“Time and time again Jewish MPs and members were targeted by the most grotesque campaigns of abuse, racism and threats.”

She said it was “an honour” to return to the shadow cabinet” under Starmer but, Reeves added:”I would not have returned under any leader.”

The Leeds West MP also praised the work of the Jewish Labour Movement in standing up to the scourge of anti-Jewish racism in Labour.

But turning to former Liverpool Wavertree MP Berger, and naming the others who left the party, Reeves added:”We miss you hugely in the House of Commons.

“It is a source of great shame that you are no longer Labour members of parliament.”

She continued:”I know that all will not be done until all those who left because of antisemitism feel the Labour Party is their home again.”

Reeves said there had been “hurt” done to the entire community – a community she said had “contributed so much to our party.”

She added that where Labour continued “to fall short” under Starmer’s lead the party would “take swift and firm action.”

Reeves also made clear that her party would not tolerate the demonisation of Israel.

“When you claim the actions of the Israeli government are uniquely evil or even akin to the crimes of Nazi Germany, this goes well beyond legitimate criticism of Israel,” she said.

“It is antisemitism and has no place in a party which upholds equality as its highest value.”

In an extension of an earlier policy announcement previously announced by Jonathan Reynolds, Reeves announced that Labour would turn to Israel for advice on upholding the highest standards over artificial intelligence.(AI).

But Reeves reiterated that a Labour government would be “pro Israel, pro Palestine and pro peace.”

She spoke of the need to adhere to international law, and said Labour would oppose illegal settlements.

She also turned to her and Starmer’s economic plan for the country, saying Labour would be both “pro worker and pro business.”

As Reeves finished her speech she was given a two minute long standing ovation.

Also speaking at the LFI lunch – which was attended by a host of dignitaries including Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Lord Michael Levy, former Jewish Leadership Council leader Jonathan Goldstein, Labour shadow cabinet members Lisa Nandy, David Lammy and Yvette Cooper – were Steve McCabe MP, and the Israeli ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely.

Israeli Labor leader Merav Michaeli also gave a speech, as did Steve McCabe MP, LFI’s parliamentary chair.

Others in attendance included MP Charlotte Nicols, Barry Gardiner, Lord Mann, and the former communal leader and philanthropist Trevor Chinn, and Ellie Reeves, Rachel’s sister.

Barnet Labour councillors Ella Rose and Anne Clarke was also present, along with Brent’s Neil Nirva and Bury’s Nathan Boroda.

LFI’s director Michael Rubin, and lay chair Adrian Cohen also addressed the 250 strong audience.




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