Len McCluskey, the secretary-general of Unite and a key Corbyn ally, has poured petrol on the flames of the Labour row over anti-Semitism. In a piece in the forthcoming issue of the New Statesman, he accuses a group of backbench Labour MPs of using the anti-Semitism issue ‘to attack and undermine Jeremy Corbyn’.
McCluskey claims that there is a significant overlap between those criticising Jeremy Corbyn for his approach to dealing with anti-Semitism in the party and those who backed Theresa May over the Syria strikes. McCluskey singles out Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting, Ian Austin and Angela Smith for particular criticism. He writes, with almost pantomime menace, that he understands ‘why there is a growing demand for mandatory reselection’. He finishes by declaring that ‘those who wish to hold Cornyn to account can expect to be held to account themselves’.
The McCluskey piece does recognise that there is some anti-Semitism in the Labour party, something he had previously denied. But the barely veiled threats to those who are criticising Corbyn over this issue shows that many of those close to the leadership think that this whole story politically motivated. Certainly, McCluskey’s attitude will do little to reassure the Jewish groups who were so disappointed by their meeting with Jeremy Corbyn yesterday.