Jeremy Corbyn snubs crunch showdown with Labour MPs over anti-Semitism
Jeremy Corbyn boycotted a crunch showdown with MPs over anti-Semitism tonight
The Labour leader dodged a confrontation with angry backbenchers over the race hate some MPs fear is rife within party ranks.
He did not turn up at a regular meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party amid mounting criticism of his alleged failure to clamp down on abuse of Jews from some grassroots activists and his committed supporters.
A Labour source said: “Jeremy was never scheduled to attend.”
It is understood he was in a meeting on “preparing for government”.
But, his decision to snub the gathering in a Commons committee room smashed the convention the party leader always addresses the final meeting before the summer break.
It comes after senior backbencher Dame Margaret Hodge angrily confronted Mr Corbyn in the Commons last week, calling him an anti-Semite and a racist.
She told the BBC: “I have always in the past disagreed with the people who have called him an anti-Semite but, at the end of the day, people have to be judged on what they do and not what they say.
“They have to be judged on their actions and not their words.
“I think what has happened over the last months – from failure to respond to anti-Semitism against Labour Party members, from failure to respond to the massive demonstration, unique demonstration by the Jewish community, culminating in the failure to adopt in full the universally used definition of anti-Semitism is just a bridge too far.”
Dame Margaret revealed she received a wave of anti-Semitic abuse since her confrontation with the party chief.
“Since the incident in the House of Commons last week I have clearly had a spate of anti-Semitic emails and social media messages – although I have to say I think I have had more supportive messages than negative ones,” she said.
Abuse included being branded a “Zionist b****” and told she was “under the orders of my paymasters in Israel”.
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman last week said the MP faces “action” over the row.
But Dame Margaret added: “Within 12 hours of actually talking to Jeremy Corbyn face-to-face I received a disciplinary letter – 12 hours.
“Think how long it has taken for the Labour Party to respond at all to any of the allegations of anti-Semitism.”
Insisting she would not quit the party, she said: “I am going to fight within the Labour Party and it is terrible that in 2018 I have to do that.”
Dame Margaret’s lawyers suggested Labour launched a “veiled attempt to silence” her.
Mishcon de Reya questioned the “fairness and legitimacy” of a disciplinary investigation into the backbencher, accusing the party of failing to outline allegations against her.
The MP was reported to have called him a “f****** anti-Semite and a racist”, but in the legal letter she denied swearing at the party leader.
“This is vehemently denied, and our client is aware of multiple witnesses who can testify that she did not swear,” the letter states.
“Any allegation that our client was abusive is false.”
Labour MPs and peers will vote on September 5 on whether the party should adopt the full international definition of anti-Semitism, including the examples given by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s.
Speaking after last night’s meeting Dame Margaret said she was “deeply depressed and almost tearful”.
“I feel really very emotional, I think we all do,” she said.
“This is the party I have been in for over 50 years – it was the natural home for Jews.
“I cannot understand why we are not in a position when its so obvious that all we have to do is …adopt the internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism.”
Blasting Mr Corbyn’s absence, she said it would have been “much, much better” if he had been present.
“Clearly this is an issue that is totally central to my values,” she said.
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