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Government considering sacking anti-Semitism tsar Lord Mann leaving Jewish community 'concerned'

6 March 2024, 07:43

John Mann retired as an MP in October July 2019 when he was elevated to the House of Lords and was made the government's anti-semitism tsar
John Mann retired as an MP in October July 2019 when he was elevated to the House of Lords and was made the government's anti-semitism tsar. Picture: Alamy
Henry Riley

By Henry Riley

LBC can reveal that the government is considering replacing Lord Mann as the UK Government Adviser on Antisemitism.

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The peer, who is a former longstanding Labour MP, stood down from the House of Commons after being appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May when she created the role in 2019 - and has served under three Tory Prime Ministers in that time.

The office was established to provide independent advice to the Secretary of State for The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, currently Michael Gove, on "the most effective methods to tackle antisemitism".

It’s understood that the government is stalling on reappointing John Mann ahead of his five-year term in the role coming to an end in July. Lord Mann has been a longstanding campaigner against antisemitism, and famously clashed with former London Mayor Ken Livingstone on the issue and still serves as the current President of the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism.

LBC can reveal that there are discussions within government about ousting the longstanding campaigner in favour of a new independent adviser.

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Lee Harpin, the Political Editor of Jewish News, told LBC he is "very surprised" and "concerned" by the news.

Mr Harpin said "I'd be very surprised and also very concerned if were the case. Some of the work Lord Mann has done over the past 5 years, during very turbulent years for the Jewish community, has been pivotal"

"His work around antisemitism in Universities and schools, his campaigns in sports against antisemitism - they really have worked and they have been very worthwhile projects, so I'd be very shocked if he were to be replaced"

There is speculation that former Labour MPs Lord Walney and Lord Austin are being considered. Both politicians abandoned Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, and urged voters to back Boris Johnson. Lord Walney is currently the government's independent adviser on political violence and disruption, whilst Lord Austin is a former Labour minister who is currently the Prime Minister's Trade Envoy to Israel.

The government, however, maintains that there has been no final decision on whether to replace Lord Man - who has produced two landmark reports during his time, including on 'Anti-Jewish Hatred' and 'Understanding Jewish Experience in Higher Education'.

A spokesperson for the Department for Levelling Up and Communities told LBC "The independent advisor on antisemitism is a critical role that makes a significant contribution. No decisions on the appointment have been made.”

Charlie Rowley, a former special adviser to Michael Gove at the Levelling Up department, told LBC "I think John has done some brilliant work in this area, including challenging his former party, Labour, and challenging his former leader Jeremy Corbyn."

The role will continue to operate, with the government announcing recently that the funding for the adviser role will continue. Whilst the role is unpaid, the office receives £100,000 per year to cover reasonable travel and subsistence expenses as well as support from the Antisemitism Policy Trust.

The Community Security Trust recorded record reports of anti-Jewish hate in 2023 with 4,103 incidents, up from 1,662 in 2022.

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