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LABOUR stands “united” against any form of anti-semitism and racism, leader Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday in a passionate May Day address.
Mr Corbyn’s speech on International Workers’ Day answered the call for an “unequivocal message” against anti-semitism made by Israel’s ambassador to Britain earlier in the day.
He celebrated the British labour movement’s record of fighting racism and called for a renewed campaign in solidarity with refugees and against the the growth of the far-right in Europe.
“You solve problems by human rights, justice and respect and not by blaming minorities,” said the Labour leader.
“And so we stand absolutely against anti-semitism in any form. We stand against racism in any form.
“We stand united as a labour movement recognising our faith diversity, our ethnic diversity and from that diversity comes strength.
“So those who attack people from different faiths standing for public office — and Sadiq Khan is being attacked at the moment — I say to them: shame on you!”
Mr Corbyn became the first Labour leader to address the annual London rally in 50 years when he spoke to crowds in Clerkenwell Green from an open-top bus.
It came as Labour heavyweights hit back at claims of a supposed anti-semitism crisis within the party after the suspensions of MP Naz Shah and former mayor of London Ken Livingstone last week.
Shadow international development secretary Diane Abbott also blasted suggestions that the party was beset by anti-semitism as a “smear” against members who have spent a lifetime fighting racism.
And Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said anti-semitism allegations were being “cynically” exploited by opponents of Mr Corbyn in a campaign to undermine his leadership.
“The truth of the matter is that I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for 45 years and there is no crisis of anti-semitism in our party,” he told BBC 5 Live’s Pienaar’s Politics show.
“This is nothing more than a cynical attempt to manipulate anti-semitism for political aims because this is all about constantly challenging Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”
The Unite leader pointed out that socialists were “out on the cobblestones of Cable Street fighting against Mosley’s blackshirts” while right-wing newspapers were “the very people who supported elements of the Establishment and the aristocracy in the 1930s supporting Hitler.”
Ms Shah, before joining Labour, shared an allegedly anti-semitic post online, while Mr Livingstone clumsily highlighted links between the nazis and zionists in his attempts to defend her.
Mr Corbyn responded on Saturday by launching an inquiry into anti-semitism and other forms of racism to be led former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti and proposing a new code of conduct introducing clear rules against all racism for the first time.
On his BBC breakfast show, Andrew Marr said the inquiry shows that anti-semitism has become an institutional problem for the Labour Party.
Ms Abbott accepted that the party could not insulate itself against prejudice in wider society, but she said: “It is a smear to say that the Labour Party has a problem with anti-semitism.
“I joined the Labour Party because some of the bravest and strongest fighters against racism and anti-semitism were in the party. There is no basis for arguing, as you seem to be arguing, that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-semitism.
“It is not fair on ordinary Labour Party members, some of whom have spent a lifetime fighting racism and anti-semitism, who must be shocked to get up this morning and hear you insinuate the Labour Party is riddled with anti-semitism.”
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