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Diane Abbott says it is smear to say Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism

1 May 2016

12:35 PM

1 May 2016

12:35 PM

Labour might have hoped that the announcement of an independent inquiry into the issue of anti-Semitism in the party would have drawn a line under the matter, and let the party get back to its election message ahead of polling day on Thursday. But comments by senior Labour figures are ensuring that this row continues.

This morning, Diane Abbott went on the Marr show and said that ‘It is a smear to say that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism’—which makes you wonder why Jeremy Corbyn has set up an inquiry into the issue. If this was not enough, Unite leader Len McCluskey declared on the radio that ‘The idea that there is an anti-Semitic crisis in the Labour party is absolutely offensive. But it’s being used to challenge Jeremy Corbyn.’

Tellingly, Labour wouldn’t put a shadow Cabinet member up on the Sunday Politics with Andrew Neil to discuss the issue. It is hard to see how they could have reconciled Abbott’s comments with the actions that the party says it is taking to deal with this issue.

If Labour is going to deal with this problem, then everyone in the party is going to have to accept the seriousness of the issue. At the moment, that—as the comments by Abbott and McCluskey have demonstrated—isn’t the case.

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