UK Politics

Anti-Semitism: Labour to vote on tougher rules

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn giving a speech at a rally in Brighton. Image copyright Getty Images

New proposals which would make racism and anti-Semitism serious offences in the Labour Party are expected to be voted on at its annual conference.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he hopes the plans "will go" to the event in Liverpool on 25 September.

Allegations of anti-Semitism within the party have led to some MPs being suspended.

A review of racism within Labour found no significant problems, but it was criticised by Jewish leaders and MPs.

The plans, put forward by the Jewish Labour Movement, would see racism and anti-Semitism being treated as seriously as supporting another political party.

The proposed rules still have to be approved at a meeting of the party's ruling National Executive Committee on Tuesday, but both Mr Corbyn and leadership contender Owen Smith said they expect it to reach the conference.

Space 'for everybody'

Speaking at a Jewish community leadership hustings in north London, Mr Corbyn said: "Yes it will be going to conference, and it follows on from the general anti-racism statement I proposed to the national executive some months ago which was actually unanimously agreed by the NEC."

"There's something really sad that we're the only political party that's ever had a statement of general anti-racism," he added.

Labour leadership contender Owen Smith said he would also back the new rule.

He said: "I felt it very sharply that we have previously treated supporting an alternative party as a more serious offence than articulating anti-Semitic or other racist or homophobic, for example, views. That cannot be right."

"I think particularly the way in which the rule change has been framed does make a very stark point."

During the hustings debate, Mr Corbyn said he was "resolutely opposed" to anti-Semitism and would keep the party's response under "constant review".

He said: "I want there to be space in the party for everybody to be able to raise the issues they want, whether they are supporters or Israel or critics of Israel".

Mr Smith promised a "zero tolerance approach" and a "more substantive" review of racism if he becomes leader.

"If we are not a plural, broad-base, inclusive, welcoming organisation then we are at odds with the history and traditions of the Labour movement," he said.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti's review found Labour is "not overrun" by racism

The development comes after Mr Corbyn denied there was a "crisis" in the party amid accusations of anti-Semitism amongst its MPs and activists.

Labour MPs Naz Shah and former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone were among those to be suspended over allegations of anti-Semitism.

Q&A: Labour anti-Semitism row

A review of the issue of racism in Labour, led by former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti, found the party "is not overrun by anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or other forms of racism".

But the report was criticised by Jewish leaders and MPs, who said its credibility was undermined because Ms Chakrabarti was nominated for a peerage by Labour just weeks after its release.

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