Anti-Semitism will not be tolerated in any form under a Labour government, party leader Jeremy Corbyn responded on Tuesday after Britain's Chief Rabbi accused him of failing to stem the "poison" pervading opposition party ranks.
"Anti-Semitism in any form is vile and wrong," Corbyn said at the launch of Labour's race and faith manifesto, adding that the party's door would be open to all faith leaders.
"There is no place whatsoever for anti-Semitism in any shape or form or in any place whatsoever in modern Britain, and under a Labour government it will not be tolerated in any form, whatsoever. I want to make that clear," said Corbyn.
Earlier, ahead of the upcoming general election in the UK, set for 12 December, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis condemned Jeremy Corbyn’s “utterly inadequate” response to Jewish MPs being “hounded out” of the party, slamming him for being “complicit in prejudice,” reported The Telegraph.
Rabbi Mirvis said the Labour Party’s leader had left him no choice as he fears for “the moral compass of our country” if he were to become prime minister.
In an article for The Times, Rabbi Mirvis asks what it would take for a leader of the Opposition to be considered unfit for high office, as he proceeded to list the controversies reportedly linked with Corbyn’s name.
“Would associations with those who have openly incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would support for a racist mural, depicting powerful hook-nosed Jews supposedly getting rich at the expense of the weak and downtrodden be enough? Would describing as 'friends' those who endorse and even perpetrate the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not,” writes the Chief Rabbi.
As he deliberately omits the Labour Party leader’s name in the article, the Chief Rabbi says his decision to speak out had been “amongst the most painful moments” since taking office.
Driven by a need to speak out on behalf of the Jewish community, he writes that the Labour Party leadership has never understood that their failure is not just one of procedure, adding:
“It is a failure to see this as a human problem rather than a political one. It is a failure of culture. It is a failure of leadership. A new poison – sanctioned from the very top – has taken root in the Labour Party.”
The Rabbi ends his article by saying:
“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote…I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the following question: What will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When 12 December arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience.”
The statement by Mirvis is the first instance of a Chief Rabbi publicly taking sides in an election campaign.
Labour’s pledge to combat anti-Semitism
In response to the Chief Rabbi's comments, a Labour spokesman said:
"Jeremy Corbyn is a lifelong campaigner against anti-Semitism and has made absolutely clear it has no place in our party and society and that no-one who engages in it does so in his name”.
The spokesman added:
"A Labour government will guarantee the security of the Jewish community, defend and support the Jewish way of life, and combat rising anti-Semitism in our country and across Europe.”
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has persistently fended off allegations of anti-Semitism within his party’s ranks, vowing during last week’s leadership debates that every claim had been investigated and he was doing everything he could to stamp it out.
Corbyn’s ‘disastrous’ personal ratings
The current statement by the Rabbi came as a senior adviser to Labour had suggested Corbyn’s future as Party leader could be up for discussion as part of a power-sharing deal with the SNP or Liberal Democrats, The Telegraph had reported on Monday.
Lord Kerslake, a long-standing ally of the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer McDonnell, said replacing Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader would “form part of the conversation” of any talks in the event of a hung parliament.
Sources close to Corbyn, however, are said to have insisted a change of party leadership was “not on the table”.
With just 16 days to go until the 12 December and the Party manifestos published, opinion polls have been showing Labour’s failing attempts to close the gap on the Tories, with Jeremy Corbyn’s low personal ratings suggested as one of the reasons.
Some recent polls indicate that Labour is still trailing at least 10 points behind the Conservatives.
One poll, conducted by Opinium between 20 - 22 November, shows the strongest lead for the Tories yet, with 47 per cent, and Labour at 28 per cent.
This lead for the Tories, if it manifested, would deliver the working majority Boris Johnson requires to deliver Brexit.
Separate surveys suggested the Labour party somewhat eroding Boris Johnson’s lead.
Welsh Westminster voting intention:— Britain Elects (@britainelects) November 25, 2019
LAB: 38% (+9)
CON: 32% (+4)
PC: 11% (-1)
LDEM: 9% (-3)
BREX: 8% (-7)
GRN: 1% (-2)
via @YouGov, 22 - 25 Nov
Chgs. w/ early Novhttps://t.co/4RmeKio411
Latest Westminster voting intention (21-22 Nov)— YouGov (@YouGov) November 23, 2019
Con - 42% (no change from 18-19 Nov)
Lab - 30% (n/c)
Lib Dem - 16% (+1)
Green - 4% (n/c)
Brexit Party - 3% (-1)
Other - 5% (n/c)https://t.co/VjeASgGvMb pic.twitter.com/RFW8V7Awcj