Corbyn’s defence of a counter-protester group has reignited Labour’s anti-Semitism row

An interview with the Labour leader resulted in the headline “Not Good Enough” in Jewish News.


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Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis has sparked into new life following an interview with Jeremy Corbyn in Jewish News, which resulted in a critical frontpage when the Labour leader defended Jewish Voice for Labour, the group behind the counter-demonstration to Monday’s anti-Semitism protest.

“Not Good Enough” is the Jewish News splash – and adding to the problem is that Christine Shawcroft, a director of Momentum and a member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee, has had to resign her post as chair of Labour's disputes panel after The Times obtained an email in which she called for the readmission to the party of a Labour candidate suspended for posting an article describing the Holocaust as a hoax.

On The Times story, I explain the consequences for Labour's internal structures and rulemaking in greater detail here, but one important repercussion will be the greater suspicion within the Labour left that not everyone is pulling in the same direction. Many senior Corbynites believe the leak came from the Labour left as Shawcroft's email was circulated to members of the NEC's left caucus, however, one usually well-informed member of the Labour right claims that the leak came from a departing member of party staff.

Regardless of its source, the story will only increase the pain and suspicion among the Jewish community towards the Labour party, as Shawcroft resigned only after the story hit the papers, not after the email was sent.

The Jewish News interview is particularly fraught from an electoral perspective for Labour as the newspaper is a London freesheet. The London borough of Barnet ought to be one of the easiest gains for Labour to make in May – heavily Remain, well-stocked with graduates and social liberals, a local council that has not exactly covered itself in glory in recent years – but now looks to be in doubt.

It may even be hurting Labour well outside of the capital if the latest YouGov is to be believed, the second successive poll from that company to show the Tories holding a lead outside the margin of error over Labour – although the usual caveats about polls this far from a general election, and indeed political polls in general, should be observed.

But while Labour ought not to need an electoral incentive to get its house in order as far as anti-Semitism goes, it's a reminder that the imperative of a full-throated response to the problem is political and not just moral.

Stephen Bush is political editor of the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.