Shelagh Fogarty challenges Labour spokesperson on anti-Semitism

26 November 2019, 19:36 | Updated: 27 November 2019, 08:51

Shelagh Fogarty grilled Labour party spokesperson Rachael Maskell after the chief rabbi accused Jeremy Corbyn of failing to tackle anti-Semitism.

"He obviously felt compelled to speak," said Shelagh, speaking of the rabbi, "and that British Jews feel genuine fear - address that."

Ms Maskell said they will take steps to address these concerns, including ensuring tech companies police Islamophobic and anti-Semitic comments on social media platforms, and securing places of worship.

Shelagh countered that the immediate fear isn't the inability to practice faith, their immediate fear is Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister - in the words of Ephraim Mervis today, 'a new poison has arrive, sanctioned from the very top, has taken root in the party.'

Since General Secretary Jennie Formby has come in, Ms Maskell insisted, various procedures have been put in place regarding anti-Semitism, and assured this discrimination has no place in the Labour party.

Rachael Maskell assured Shelagh Labour do not tolerate any anti-Semitism
Rachael Maskell assured Shelagh Labour do not tolerate any anti-Semitism. Picture: PA

Shelagh then pointed out a Labour activist has called the rabbi a Boris Johnson supporter and linked the rabbi to the current government of Israel.

"That's anti-Semitic to do that, to take issue with someone and say, 'You're pro-Israel, that's the only reason I have anything to fear'. That's anti-Semitic, Rachael, and if you don't know that maybe you should go on one of your party's education courses."

Ms Maskell agreed and if the activist was a member of the Labour party then it should be investigated.

Shelagh questioned whether Mr Corbyn approved of the Hamas Charter a pro-Palestinian militant group, after he once referred to members of the group as "friends" - but later said he regretted using this "inclusive" language.

"It was an informal address to a group of people," said Rachael Maskell, insisting this did not reveal a pro-Palestinian stance, "sometimes we have to look at context as well as words."

She continued that the Equality and Human Rights Commission is due to release their report shortly on anti-Semitism in the Labour party, but did not answer whether Labour's national executive committee have been privy to Labour's submissions to the report in the first place, after raising concerns about a lack of transparency from party chiefs.