UK Labour suspends ex-leader Corbyn after anti-Semitism report

The former head of the opposition was dogged by claims of anti-Semitism within the party during his leadership.

Corbyn, right, and Starmer, left, have widely different views on how the opposition should be run [File: Francisco Seco/AP]

The United Kingdom’s opposition Labour Party has suspended its former leader Jeremy Corbyn, saying he sought to deflect blame away from himself after a report found that under his leadership the party was responsible for unlawful harassment and discrimination.

Corbyn’s successor, Keir Starmer, apologised and said Labour was facing a “day of shame” after the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found serious failings in how the party had dealt with allegations of anti-Semitism within its ranks.

Corbyn’s tenure was marred by persistent complaints of anti-Semitism in the party and criticism of the leader’s response.

He was suspended on Thursday after saying he did not accept all the report’s findings, that his attempts at reforming complaints processes had been stalled by “obstructive party bureaucracy” and that the scale of the problem had been overstated for political reasons.

Corbyn said: “Anyone claiming there is no anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is wrong … Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.

“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its (the report’s) findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”

But the party responded strongly, adding it had removed the Labour whip from Corbyn, meaning the former leader will no longer be able to take part in House of Commons votes as a Labour legislator.

“In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation,” Labour said in a statement.

Starmer said he accepted the EHRC’s report “in full” and would implement all its recommendations.

“It is a day of shame for the Labour Party. We have failed Jewish people … I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused,” said Starmer, who held a senior role under Corbyn’s leadership but has tried to stamp out the problem since taking over.

“Never again will we fail to tackle anti-Semitism and never again will we lose your trust.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies