"He makes himself the victim": James O'Brien picks apart Corbyn's report response

30 October 2020, 11:22 | Updated: 30 October 2020, 11:24

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien picks apart Jeremy Corbyn's response to the report which found the Labour Party to have committed unlawful acts of anti-Semitism under his leadership.

Following the publishing of the damning report, the former leader claimed that Labour's anti-Semitism problem was "dramatically overstated for political reasons" - and it was these comments and the "failure to retract them" that led to his suspension, Sir Keir Starmer told LBC.

James said, "Jeremy Corbyn's legacy right now is Boris Johnson, Brexit and a split Labour party. He has the opportunity to fix just one of those things.

"He had years to have a crack at Brexit and declined to do so, he ushered Boris Johnson into the House of Commons with one of the largest Parliamentary majorities ever seen, and yesterday took a very very conscious decision to reignite internecine warfare."

James continued: "Yesterday he made a very conscious decision to ignore the advice he'd been given...and he decided to make it about himself. He decided to portray himself as the victim."

He pointed out the problem with Mr Corbyn's response is that his comment about Labour's anti-Semitism being "dramatically overstated" has nothing to do with the Equality Human Rights Commission report.

"If he'd just made a comparison with Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, I think he could've walked it," said James, "if he simply said it would be nice to see a similar scale of scrutiny applied to Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

"But he didn't, he made it about himself, he started complaining, he started once again commoditising victimhood."

Jeremy Corbyn's response to the EHRC report:

“Antisemitism is absolutely abhorrent, wrong and responsible for some of humanity’s greatest crimes. As Leader of the Labour Party I was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism. I have campaigned in support of Jewish people and communities my entire life and I will continue to do so.

“The EHRC’s report shows that when I became Labour leader in 2015, the Party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose. Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy. But from 2018, Jennie Formby and a new NEC that supported my leadership made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove antisemites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.

“Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour Party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.

“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.

“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”