Antisemitism 'intimately related' to Labour's politics, says MP who quit party

3 March 2019, 11:09 | Updated: 3 March 2019, 21:45

Antisemitism is "intimately related" to Labour's politics under Jeremy Corbyn, an MP who left the party over the issue has told Sky News.

Speaking out after receiving death threats, Joan Ryan said antisemitism was "never" a problem before he became leader in 2015.

"It is intimately related to their politics, to their organisation and to the processes that now operate in the Labour Party," the Enfield North MP told Sky News.

"And I have no confidence that they can eradicate it."

Ms Ryan, who is not Jewish herself, has reported the threats to the police. Sky News contacted the Metropolitan Police for comment.

She said the threats were "deeply misogynist" and "full of the most appalling language", but added: "It's not going to stop me doing my job as a Member of Parliament representing the people of Enfield."

According to the Mail on Sunday, Ms Ryan was threatened with rape and told she should be "shoved right back in the ovens".

Ms Ryan quit the party last month and joined The Independent Group of MPs.

She said she was leaving because Labour had "become infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism" under Mr Corbyn's leadership.

The Labour leader told Sky News last week that bullying does not exist on a "wide scale" in the party and there was "no place for harshness, bullying or anything else in the party".

He added: "Where there is bad behaviour, we deal with it. Where there is a problem, we deal with it."

It comes after John McDonnell acknowledged Labour "clearly" has a problem with antisemitism.

The shadow chancellor told Sky News the party was not institutionally antisemitic, but needed to be quicker to act on the issue.

When asked if Labour has a problem with antisemitism, he said: "Well, we clearly do.

"These allegations that the Labour Party is institutionally antisemitic I reject completely, but clearly we do (have a problem) and we've accepted that."

Mr McDonnell said party figures suggest 0.1% of members "seem to have been involved in some form of antisemitism".

He added: "It's a tiny number but it's still a problem - I don't want one antisemite in our party, I don't want one piece of evidence of someone being antisemitic, we've got to eradicate it from our party because our party has got to be in the lead with others in eradicating it from our society."

Mr McDonnell said that Labour in general needs to be quicker to react to cases when they arise, adding that sometimes it needs to be "more ruthless, more severe, and we're doing that".

When asked for her reaction to the shadow chancellor's comments, Ms Ryan said they were "disappointing".

"Because it absolutely demonstrates that there is no real understanding in the leadership of the problem they've got," she continued.

"He quoted some numbers, a tiny percentage of their total membership who have been reported or disciplined through their processes, it's not about the number of individuals.

"Institutional racism is about racism within your very organisational structures within your processes.

"I think the fact that over three-and-a-half years they have not managed to deal with this problem in any way that eradicates it, demonstrates that it is institutionally racist, they don't understand the problem and they are not taking the measures needed to tackle it."

Meanwhile, Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd has called on Labour to put its local party in Hastings and Rye into special measures.

Ms Rudd - the constituency's MP - has claimed the area's Labour Party passed an emergency motion calling for Derby North MP Chris Williamson to be reinstated immediately.

Mr Williamson was suspended after he accused the party of being "too apologetic" over accusations of antisemitism.

General Secretary Jennie Formby told Labour MPs last month the party had received 673 complaints relating to members in 10 months.

Ninety-six members were suspended from the party for their conduct between April 2018 and January 2019, and 12 were expelled, she revealed.