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Margaret Hodge stands by anti-Semitism attack on Corbyn

Margaret Hodge

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Dame Margaret Hodge has been a fierce critic of Labour’s new anti-Semitism guidelines

Labour veteran Dame Margaret Hodge has stood by her criticism of Jeremy Corbyn – as the party prepares for a crunch meeting on anti-Semitism later.

She said she had always disagreed with those who called Mr Corbyn an anti-Semite but “people have to be judged on what they do and not what they say”.

Jewish Labour MPs will urge the party to accept a more thorough definition of anti-Semitism at a meeting later.

They say that the party’s new code of conduct does not go far enough.

The new guidelines, rubber-stamped last week, do not adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in full.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the debate should be delayed until the autumn, when more people could attend.

Labour’s new code of conduct was approved by its National Executive Committee last week, but it was criticised by Jewish leaders and some of its own MPs.

The document says: “Anti-Semitism is racism. It is unacceptable in our party and in wider society.”

But it does not include all of the “working examples” given in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Following criticism, Labour said it would “reopen development of the code” in consultation with Jewish groups.

Dame Margaret is facing Labour disciplinary action after confronting Mr Corbyn in the Commons last week, reportedly swearing at him and calling him an anti-Semite.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today she stood by her criticism of the Labour leader, saying: “What has happened over the last months – from failure to respond to anti-Semitism against Labour Party members, from failure to respond to the massive demonstration, unique demonstration by the Jewish community, culminating in the failure to adopt in full the universally used definition of anti-Semitism is just a bridge too far.”

She insisted she would not leave the party, saying: “I am going to fight within the Labour Party – and it is terrible that in 2018 I have to do that.”

Mr Corbyn has said he is “committed to eliminating anti-Semitism wherever it exists”.

“Prejudice and hatred of Jewish people has no place whatsoever in the Labour Party,” he said earlier this year.

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Mr Corbyn has said he is “committed to eliminating anti-Semitism wherever it exists”

The Labour leader in the House of Lords, Baroness Smith, said there was no point agreeing a definition of anti-Semitism if it alienated the Jewish community.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour that adopting the full international definition was “the way forward”.

Jewish MPs Ruth Smeeth and Louise Ellman will submit an emergency motion at Monday’s Labour meeting calling for the party to amend its guidelines to include the IHRA definition.

Critics of the party’s new guidelines included the chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, who said Labour would be “on the wrong side” of the fight against racism unless it toughened up its stance.

What are the differences?

Labour’s code of conduct was drawn up after the 2016 Chakrabarti inquiry. It followed allegations of anti-Semitism within party ranks.

The code does reproduce the IHRA’s “working definition” of anti-Semitism and lists behaviours likely to be regarded as anti-Semitic – but critics point out that it leaves out four examples from that definition:

  • Accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country
  • Claiming that Israel’s existence as a state is a racist endeavour
  • Requiring higher standards of behaviour from Israel than other nations
  • Comparing contemporary Israeli policies to those of the Nazis

Labour have insisted that while the examples are not reproduced word for word, they are covered in the new code.

Labour’s code says it is “wrong” to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than their own country. And it says that using Nazi comparisons in Israel-Palestine debates “carries a strong risk of being regarded as prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the party”, triggering a disciplinary investigation.

A party spokeswoman said: “The code of conduct adopts the IHRA definition and expands on and contextualises the IHRA examples to produce robust, legally sound guidelines that a political party can apply to disciplinary cases.”

Tory vice-chairman Rehman Chishti said: “Labour’s failure to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitic racism in full is shameful.”

Margaret Hodge stands by anti-Semitism attack on Corbyn}

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