The Labour MP at the centre of Labour’s ongoing antisemitism debate has sparked a significant backlash after claiming that even if the party does adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full – as is widely expected – it would now not be enough to solve the seemingly never-ending row over antisemitism within the party, as she had previously indicated.
Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who infamously screamed in Jeremy Corbyn’s face by accusing him of being a ‘racist and an antisemite‘, made the highly controversial comments whilst speaking at the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) Conference yesterday.
Hodges’ comments have unsurprisingly fuelled speculation that the ongoing antisemitism row is being used by some in order to try and oust Jeremy Corbyn over political differences, rather than in an attempt to stamp out antisemitism among a small minority of members within the party.
Speaking at the JLM event, Hodge declared that whatever happened she would “stand and fight” within the party, before going on to declare that even if the party does adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, it now – contrary to previous statements – would not be enough to solve the current row:
“It might have been enough three months ago, it might have just enabled us all to start talking to each other and bring trust again, but I think that moment has passed,”
The Barking MP also went on to imply that it was the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and not antisemitism, that was the problem, stating:
“The problem is that he [Jeremy Corbyn] is the problem,
The party is bigger than Corbyn. Our party has been around for over 100 years, Corbyn has only been there for three – three damaging years.”
Unsurprisingly, Hodges’ latest deviation from her previous demand has sparked significant anger amongst pro-Corbyn Labour supporters:
This is infuriating and will fuel division. Saying “IHRA isn’t enough”, exactly at the moment Labour is signaling it will adopt full IHRA, looks a lot like a wrecking ball. Saying Corbyn is the problem prolongs, rather than heals the row https://t.co/8iqRNC9a62
— rachel shabi (@rachshabi) September 3, 2018
Margaret Hodge told JLM conf today that agreeing to IHRA in full will not be enough + she will fight JC until he is no longer leader. One more reason for Labour to defend their code, apart from the fact that only 6/31 IHRA countries have fully endorsed it.
— David Rosenberg (@davidjrosenberg) September 2, 2018
At JLM conference yesterday, Margaret Hodge explicitly stated that even if NEC adopts full IHRA with examples it won't be enough until Corbyn goes. At least she's being honest now. That was always the objective of this 'crisis' as many noted months ago. This is Chicken Coup 2.0.
— Ben Goren (@BanGaoRen) September 3, 2018
According to Robert Peston, Labour’s ruling body, the NEC, is on the verge of adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism in full, and with all of its examples, on September 4th.
Labour’s ruling NEC will adopt IHRA antisemitism definition in full, with all examples, on 4 September, according to three NEC members. But will that restore relations with the mainstream Jewish community? https://t.co/TqGBXT51Y9
— Robert Peston (@Peston) August 28, 2018
The adoption of the widely-criticised working definition was a key demand from the Jewish community to heal the wounds of Labour’s ongoing row surrounding antisemitism, with the Jewish Board of Deputies listing it as a key demand in an official letter to the party:
Board of Deputies Chief Executive Gillian Merron has written to @UKLabour General Secretary Jennie Formby, informing her of the essential steps the party needs to take in order to deal with the antisemitism crisis pic.twitter.com/YjlWr3gdH1
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) August 29, 2018
The current antisemitism row also took a significant twist today after the historically anti-Corbyn Labour Peer, Lord Adonis, slammed the former Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks, as a ‘voice for extremism’ over his controversial comments which compared Jeremy Corbyn to the notoriously racist former Tory MP, Enoch Powell.
Should Labour push the adoption of the definition through on Tuesday as expected, it will be extremely interesting to see whether or not the constant attacks on Jeremy Corbyn over supposed ‘widespread’ antisemitism within the part will halt.