Antisemitism report ‘overly focused’ on Labour, says NEC member
A member of Labours national executive committee (NEC) has supported Jeremy Corbyns dismissal of a damning parliamentary report on antisemitism in politics that heavily criticised the party, saying it was overly focused on Labour.
Rhea Wolfson, a Corbyn supporter who was voted on to the NEC in the summer, said the fact the Labour leader had commissioned a report into antisemitism within the party by Shami Chakrabarti was testament to the fact he is taking the issue seriously.
Chakrabartis findings were derided in the report from the cross-party home affairs select committee, published on Sunday, and described as ultimately compromised by Chakrabartis subsequent peerage and elevation to the shadow cabinet.
The committees report said a lack of action over the issue from Corbyn risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally antisemitic. The party was said to have been demonstrably incompetent in dealing with incidents of anti-Jewish abuse.
Corbyn said the report was overly focused on Labour. The committees acting chairman, Tim Loughton, said he was disappointed by Corbyns response, saying it showed he was still in denial.
Wolfson, who is Jewish, told BBC Radio 4s Today programme she had received strong support within Labour when far-right activists targeted her for antisemitic abuse when she stood for the NEC.
She echoed Corbyns complaints about the report. On the issue of the Labour party, I felt the report came across as incredibly party political and focused overly on the Labour party, she said.
I did disagree with the report when it says that Jeremy has not been consistent on leadership. I think the fact he responded so quickly to the allegations that were handed to him on antisemitism and set up the Chakrabarti report is testament to the fact he is taking the issue seriously, and I have a lot of faith in him to move forward in this issue.
Asked about the idea of lifetime bans for party members who were antisemitic, Wolfson said she preferred the solution used in the case of the Bradford West MP Naz Shah, who was suspended from the party for disparaging posts on Facebook about Israel but expressed contrition and has since worked closely with her local Jewish community.
We should be aiming for a much more open culture of not debate but education on these issues, Wolfson said. Thats the type of journey Id like to see people go on.