Starmer vows change on ‘day of shame’ but Corbyn says problems ‘overstated’
Keir Starmer has described today as a “day of shame” for the Labour party after a damning report into anti-Semitism was published.
The Labour leader said those who are anti-Semitic “should be nowehre near the Labour party”, adding “we will make sure that you’re not.”
In a press conference this morning, Starmer vowed to implement every recommendation made by the EHRC, and provide an action plan within six weeks.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has also supported the EHRC recommendations.
However Jeremy Corbyn, his predecessor, insisted he helped to speed up the complaints process, “not hinder” it, and claimed the scale of the problem within the party had been “overstated” by rivals.
Mr Starmer said: “I found this report hard to read and it is a day of shame for the Labour Party.
“We have failed Jewish people, our members, our supporters and the British public.
“On behalf of the Labour Party, I am truly sorry for all the pain and grief that has been caused.”
He said that he would never have thought that the EHRC, set up under a Labour government, would be investigating the party “for breaching the equality legislation that a Labour Government had introduced…Worse still, that the Labour Party would be found to have committed unlawful acts under that same legislation.”
He continued: “I can promise you this: I will act.
“Never again will Labour let you down. Never again will we fail to tackle anti-Semitism, and never again will we lose your trust.
“We will implement all the recommendations, and we will implement them in full.
“That process starts today.”
Mr Starmer said he wanted the party to “once again” become “an open and welcoming place for people from all backgrounds, and all communities.”
He said: “If you’re anti-Semitic, you should be nowhere near this party, and we’ll make sure you’re not.”
Addressing those who believe the problems to be concocted as a result of factional infighting, he said: “If, after all the pain, grief, and all the evidence in this report, there are still those who think there’s no problem with anti-Semitism in the Labour Party…that it’s all exaggerated, or a factional attack…then, frankly, you are part of the problem too. And you should be nowhere near the Labour Party either.”
He said there had to be “no more denials” or “excuses”.
Moments before his address, his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn issued a statement in response to the report, in which he said he did not accept all of its findings and added that the scale of anti-Semitism within the party had been exaggerated by opposition parties.
He said as leader, he “was always determined to eliminate all forms of racism and root out the cancer of antisemitism”.
He continued: “One anti-Semite 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.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the report was a “sobering read” and the issues highlighted were a matter of “deep regret” for him personally.
He said: “This report will be a saddening and sobering read for everyone in the Labour party and everyone who is committed to eliminating antisemitism, racism and hatred from our society.
“It sets out a series of failures which are a matter of deep regret, for me and for everyone in our party. Keir Starmer has made crystal clear this morning that our party will accept the report’s findings and implement its recommendations in full, and that is the right thing to do.
“All of us have a duty to root out antisemitism wherever it exists, and that doesn’t stop at this report – we need to remain vigilant against the evil of antisemitism in our society.
“We must work tirelessly with the Jewish community to rebuild trust. We also have a responsibility to further educate our members and society at large on antisemitism and how to fight it.”