Another Labour anti-Semitism row: Keir Starmer is forced to reprimand MPs Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy for taking part in Zoom call with activist suspended for saying ‘Jews financed the slave trade’
- Diane Abbott and Bell Ribeiro-Addy were involved in Don’t Leave Zoom call
- Jackie walker, thrown out of party for saying ‘Jews financed slave trade’ was in it
- So was Jo Bird, Labour activist suspended from over ‘Jew process’ comments
Diane Abbott was reprimanded by Sir Keir Starmer last night after she took part in an online forum with some of the most notorious figures from Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis.
The former shadow home secretary dialled in to the call on video-conferencing service Zoom alongside people including Jackie Walker, who was thrown out of the party for gross misconduct after she said Jews financed the slave trade.
During the meeting one activist, Jo Bird, who was suspended from Labour then reinstated for making jokes about ‘Jew process’, claimed the party was not dealing adequately with cases of anti-black racism because it was prioritising anti-Semitism cases.
The call was organised by the hard-left group Don’t Leave – Organise, which was set up by John McDonnell’s Labour Representation Committee and fringe group Jewish Voice for Labour.
It was also addressed by Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a former shadow immigration minister under Mr Corbyn.
Diane Abbott was reprimanded by Sir Keir Starmer last night after she took part in an online forum with some of the most notorious figures from Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis
The call was also addressed by Labour MP Bell Ribeiro-Addy, a former shadow immigration minister under Mr Corbyn
Last night anti-racism campaigners accused Sir Keir of ‘moral and political cowardice’ in failing to suspend the two MPs from the party for sharing a platform with such speakers.
A spokesman for the Labour Party said MPs who took part in the call on Wednesday night had been ‘reminded of their responsibilities’.
She said: ‘The previous comments made by some of the individuals on this call are completely unacceptable. These are not people who support the values of the Labour Party.
‘This is being made clear to the Labour MPs who attended the call in the strongest possible terms and they are being reminded of their responsibilities and obligations.’
Last night Sir Keir told the BBC: ‘The MPs concerned have been spoken to in the strongest terms. Those people who have been expelled do not share the views of the Labour Party.’
Labour is under investigation by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) over its anti-Semitism problem, and earlier this week former deputy leadership candidate Dawn Butler admitted the party would be found guilty of institutional racism.
The Zoom call was also attended by Tony Greenstein, who was expelled over anti-Semitism allegations.
Ms Abbott dialled in to the call on video-conferencing service Zoom alongside people including Jackie Walker (pictured), who was thrown out of the party for gross misconduct after she said Jews financed the slave trade
According to the Jewish Chronicle, both Miss Abbott and Miss Ribeiro-Addy gave speeches in which they offered their responses to the recently leaked report into Labour anti-Semitism.
Rather than addressing anti-Jewish racism, both MPs attacked the anti-Jeremy Corbyn wing of the party, blaming it for December’s devastating general election defeat.
Both MPs remained connected to the Zoom meeting as other speakers either denied or downplayed anti-Semitism claims.
At one point a Labour activist named Nushi addressed the meeting, saying: ‘Ken Livingstone was expelled from the party for saying in truth a historical statement.’
Salma Yaqoob, who stood to be Labour’s West Midlands Mayoral candidate, claimed the EHRC had become ‘weaponised and politicised’ and said she was a ‘victim of right-wing smears’ over allegations of her own anti-Semitism.
She added that ‘racism was weaponised by the right’.
Miss Bird told the meeting that Labour members had ‘died’ after receiving disciplinary letters in anti-Semitism cases.
Neither Miss Abbott nor Miss Ribeiro-Abby sought to correct Miss Bird over her claim – or over a further claim that anti-Semitism cases were ‘over prioritised’ while cases against black members were ‘de-prioritised’ – when they directly addressed her question during the meeting.
Jo Bird (pictured), who was suspended from Labour then reinstated for making jokes about ‘Jew process’, was also on the call
When she delivered her own remarks, Miss Abbott said the leaked document proved ‘the right wing’ of her party ‘would rather lose a General Election then see it under genuine left wing leadership’.
Critics accused Sir Keir of not going far enough in reprimanding the two MPs.
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that Labour MPs should be sharing platforms with those that have been expelled from the party for anti-Semitism.
‘Indeed, this breaches the Board of Deputies’ ten pledges that Keir and the other Labour leadership contenders signed up to. We would urge Labour to take swift and decisive action to show that this is a new era, rather than a false dawn.’
Euan Phillips, spokesman for Labour Against Anti-Semitism, added: ‘When Sir Keir signed the Board of Deputies pledge, there was an expectation that as party leader he would honour those pledges. Today he has failed to do so.
‘Instead of removing the parliamentary whip and insisting that Jennie Formby suspend their party membership, as he could have done, Sir Keir has demonstrated a disappointing level of moral and political cowardice.’
Tory MP Andrew Percy, co-chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on anti-Semitism, said: ‘Keir Starmer promised to tackle anti-Semitism in his party.
‘If he’s committed to this, it’s time for him to show he’ll keep his promises and take action against those who fail to call out views and language that aren’t fit for public life.’
One former Labour minister said: ‘He can’t afford to fail a test like this. He has to step up and keep the promises he made.’
In a statement, Don’t Leave, Organise said the contributors to the discussion following the speeches were chosen by the meeting organisers without the agreement of the speakers.
‘All comments and contributions were based on the political points under discussion by members of the audience exercising their right to participate in a free discussion at an open meeting,’ the group added.
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