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LONDON, Oct 30 — Britain’s main opposition Labour party today urged shocked members to stand united against anti-Semitism, appealing against a renewal of internecine “civil war” following the suspension of its left-wing former leader.
Jeremy Corbyn was exiled pending investigation after he refused to accept all the findings of a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which found his office had broken the law in its handling of complaints by Jewish members.
New leader Keir Starmer, calling the report a “day of shame” for Labour, promised to implement its recommendations in full, and the party suspended Corbyn after he blamed his internal critics as well as the media for exaggerating the anti-Semitism.
Starmer told Sky News he was “disappointed” in Corbyn, whose angry supporters in the party’s left wing and among some trades unions are rallying behind him.
“I don’t want a split in the Labour party. I stood as leader of the Labour party on the basis that I would unite the party, but also that I would tackle anti-Semitism,” Starmer said.
“Both of those can be done. There’s no reason for a civil war in our party.”
Corbyn’s suspension overwhelmed Starmer’s efforts to “draw a line in the sand” over the scourge of anti-Semitism and get on with his increasingly effective attacks on the Conservative government for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The EHRC found damning instances where Corbyn’s leadership team underplayed, belittled or ignored complaints by Jewish members, and sometimes actively interfered to support favoured allies, after a deluge of anti-Semitic abuse online and in party meetings.
The charge of political interference means Starmer must tread a fine line between condemning his predecessor’s actions and allowing internal party procedures to play out, now that Corbyn is under investigation.
“The leader of the Labour party should now not comment any further, let the process take its course,” Starmer said, while stressing he opposed “purging” anyone. — AFP
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