A labour councillor has been suspended over social media posts claiming Jews “drink blood”, as an international Jewish group accused Jeremy Corbyn of being “unwilling” to confront anti-semitism in the party.
Damien Enticott, a councillor for Bognor Regis, West Sussex, is accused of posting a video on Facebook referring to Jews as “parasites” and child rapists and calling for their execution. Other posts suggested that Jews “should be gassed” and that “Hitler would have a solution to the Israel problem”.
Mr Enticott claimed his account may have been accessed by a housemate, while Labour said he had been suspended pending an investigation.
A leading Jewish group has accused Jeremy Corbyn of being “unable and unwilling to confront anti-semitism”.
The European Jewish Congress said the Labour leader’s claim to be committed to fighting racism “rings hollow” in the light of the party’s refusal to accept in full an internationally accepted definition of anti-semitism.
Dr Moshe Kantor, its president, said Labour’s refusal to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) code was an “act of arrogance”, which “shows a baffling disdain for British Jewry, compounded by a leadership that dismisses any criticism of its code as ‘misinterpretation’.”
He told the Politics Home website: “In this light, the party’s continued insistence that Jeremy Corbyn has ‘worked so hard on the issue of antisemitism’ rings hollow and does little to reassure British Jews concerned that the normalisation of anti-jewish rhetoric has extended as a far as a possible future prime minister of Britain.”
Dame Margaret Hodge, a Labour peer who lost relatives in the Holocaust, is facing disciplinary action after she accused Mr Corbyn of being anti-semitic, as four Labour frontbenchers urged Mr Corbyn to accept the full IHRA code.
It was all a misunderstanding, said John Mcdonnell, and he hopes it can be settled “amicably”. The shadow chancellor has a funny definition of “amicable”.
Within 12 hours of Margaret Hodge accusing her party leader of anti-semitism, the Labour disciplinary process had shot off a letter informing the MP that she was under investigation for “a breach of Labour Party rules”. This “amicable” missive soon generated an excoriating seven-page reply from Ms Hodge’s lawyers.
It was, they pointed out, rife with procedural flaws. Labour had failed to outline the offence of which Ms Hodge was accused, cited a breach of a Labour Party rule without setting out the rule in question, failed to explain how Ms Hodge’s behaviour breached it, warned her not to repeat the behaviour – on pain of suspension – without describing it and, to top it off, signed the letter from Jenny Formby, the party’s general secretary, even though she was away on holiday, putting its authority in question.
Meanwhile, Labour’s actions had prompted a flood of anti-semitic abuse towards Ms Hodge, her lawyers said, much of it seemingly not covered by Labour’s new code of conduct as it referenced Zionism or Israel. This is rather ironic given that the rule Ms Hodge is presumably accused of breaching relates to showing “hostility or prejudice” based on religion, sex, race, and so on. It doesn’t include showing hostility to anti-semites – Ms Hodge’s actual “offence”.
Aside from the amateurism, this exchange of letters is astonishing because of its context. It took the party less than a day to mount a disciplinary process against a veteran MP for confronting her own leader about Labour’s festering, anti-jewish swamp. It took the same party more than two years to fail to discipline Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Corbyn’s friend, after he claimed that Zionists collaborated with Hitler and that “a real antisemite doesn’t just hate the Jews in Israel; they hate their Jewish neighbours”.
During the row over the explosion in anti-semitism among Corbyn supporters, the party often said its failure to act was a symptom of being overwhelmed by new members, rather than a lack of concern. Ms Hodge’s case rather illustrates, however, that Labour has no problem getting its procedures in gear immediately when the disciplinary target is an outspoken, Jewish MP criticising the leader. “Amicable”? The word for it is “sinister”.