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17 February 2016

Ed Miliband postpones Oxford talk after anti-semitism claims

Allegations of anti-semitism among members of the Oxford University Labour Club have been made in recent days.

By Henry Zeffman Henry Zeffman

Ed Miliband has postponed an event at the Oxford University Labour Club after the student society was engulfed by allegations of anti-semitism. The former Labour leader was due to address the club’s annual John Smith Memorial Dinner on 4 March.

A spokesperson for Miliband told the New Statesman: “Ed is deeply disturbed to hear of reports of anti-semitism in the Oxford University Labour Club. It is right that the executive of the club has roundly condemned the comments and fully co-operates with the Labour Students investigation. Ed and the Labour Club have agreed that his talk should be postponed until the investigation is resolved.”

Alex Chalmers, an undergraduate student at Oriel College, resigned as co-chairman of the club on Monday, writing in a public statement that “a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews”.

The Oxford University Jewish Society subsequently alleged that members of OULC had expressed sympathy with Hamas and that another member spoke of the existence of a “New York-Tel Aviv axis” that fixes elections.

The OULC executive committee released a statement this morning saying that it would launch an internal investigation. It said: “We are horrified at and whole-heartedly condemn anti-Semitic behaviour in all its forms. The comments detailed in JSoc’s statement last night indicate a shocking pattern of hateful and racist behaviour by some Club members, and it’s of the highest priority that this be dealt with swiftly and lastingly. Labour Students is launching an investigation; we will fully co-operate with this and encourage any of our members to come forward with any information that will assist the process.”

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Tom Watson, the Deputy Leader, tweeted that the allegations are “worrying” and said he will ask Labour HQ to investigate.

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