Chief rabbi tells how ‘proud’ he was at helping to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Downing Street when he warned Labour leader was ‘unfit for high office’
- Ephraim Mirvis said majority of Jews ‘gripped by anxiety’ over Corbyn in No10
- Chief rabbi made the unprecedented intervention in run up to last year’s election
- He has said he is ‘proud’ of how the ‘British public has taken hatred seriously’
England’s chief rabbi has spoken of his ‘pride’ at helping to ensure Jeremy Corbyn’s defeat in last year’s election.
Ephraim Mirvis, 64, made an unprecedented intervention into the December poll to warn that the vast majority of British Jews were ‘gripped by anxiety’ at the idea of Jeremy Corbyn in No 10.
Now almost a year on, the country’s most senior Jewish leader said it ‘felt good’ that his decision to speak out against Mr Corbyn has been given credence by a report into Labour’s antisemitism by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The former Labour leader was suspended by the party after he downplayed the seriousness of the report which found ‘significant failings in the way the Labour Party has handled anti-Semitism complaints over the last four years’.
England’s chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, 64, has spoken of his ‘pride’ at helping to secure Jeremy Corbyn’s defeat in last year’s election
Yesterday Rabbi Mirvis said that he was ‘proud’ of the intervention.
‘I’m also proud of the British public, in terms of how we saw how the British public has taken hatred seriously,’ he told Times Radio.
‘The amount of support that I personally got, and our community received, together with the EHRC report, together with Labour’s outright determination to rid the party of antisemitism: I think there are many encouraging signs.’
Last year, Rabbi Mirvis accused Mr Corbyn of allowing the ‘poison’ of anti-Semitism to take root in Labour and said it could no longer claim to be the party of diversity, equality and anti-racism.
Urging voters to examine their consciences in the polling booth, he said the election result would shine a light on the country’s moral compass.
‘The very soul of our nation is at stake,’ Rabbi Mirvis warned.
Last year, Rabbi Mirvis accused Mr Corbyn of allowing the ‘poison’ of anti-Semitism to take root in Labour and said it could no longer claim to be the party of diversity, equality and anti-racism
The chief rabbi also took aim at Mr Corbyn for supporting a racist mural and for describing terrorists who endorse the murder of Jews as ‘friends’.
His stark warning, written in The Times, was the first time a chief rabbi had intervened in electoral politics.
The EHRC launched its probe in May 2019 following persistent allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
It was published in October, and found that the party ‘harassed and discriminated against Jews’. It blasted ‘a lack of leadership within the Labour Party on these issues’.
Reacting to its findings the Rabbi Mirvis said the report was a ‘historic nadir for the Labour Party’.
‘The impact of this report reaches well beyond the issue of anti-Semitism or the Jewish community, by sending a powerful message that the politics of scapegoating and hatred will never succeed,’ Mirvis said in a statement.
He said he was ‘encouraged’ by Starmer’s commitment to change and his ‘recognition today that the Labour Party has failed Jewish people, its members, its supporters and the British public’.
He added: ‘Once again, I salute all those who came forward to share their concerns about the way that complaints about anti-Semitism were being handled in the party to which they had dedicated their lives, not least the whistleblowers, whose fortitude has been so profoundly vindicated.’
The charges against Labour in damning 130-page report
- Labour breached the Equality Act 2010 by committing ‘unlawful harassment’ in two of the complaints investigated. They included ‘using antisemitic tropes and suggesting that complaints of antisemitism were fake or smears’.
- One of the cases involved Ken Livingstone, who in 2016 defended MP Naz Shah over claims of anti-Semitism by claiming there was a smear campaign by ‘the Israel lobby’ to undermine and disrupt Mr Corbyn’s leadership. He later resigned from the Labour Party after being suspended.
- A further 18 cases were ‘borderline’, involving local councillors, local election candidates and Constituency Labour Party (CLP) officials.
- Analysis of 70 anti-Semitism complaint files found 23 incidences of ‘political interference’ by Mr Corbyn’s office and others. This included ‘clear examples of interference at various stages throughout the complaint handling process, including in decisions on whether to investigate and whether to suspend’ party members.
- The party’s complaints process was ‘inconsistent, poor, and lacking in transparency’.
- In cases where a complaint of anti-Semitism was upheld, it was ‘difficult to draw conclusions on whether the sanctions applied were fair and consistent’.
- Recommendations made by the watchdog include commissioning an independent process to handle anti-Semitism complaints and acknowledging the effect political interference has had and implementing clear rules to stop it happening again.