Jeremy Corbyn has today changed his position on antisemitism in the Labour Party under his leadership, saying it was “neither exaggerated nor overstated”, after being suspended last month for claiming the matter had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party.”
His earlier statement followed a report by the Equality and Human Rights commission which found that, under his leadership, Labour was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination over anti-semitism, citing “serious failings in the party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints.”
Corbyn’s clarification, issued today on Facebook ahead of a possible party hearing, states:
“The publication of the EHRC report should have been a moment for the Labour Party to come together in a determination to address the shortcomings of the past and work as one to root out antisemitism in our own ranks and wider society.
We must never tolerate antisemitism or belittle concerns about it. And that was not my intention in anything I said this week. I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it.
To be clear, concerns about antisemitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’. The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to antisemitism.
Sign up for our FREE Reaction Weekend Email
Read the week's best-read articles on politics, business and geopolitics
Receive offers and exclusive invites
Plus uplifting cultural commentary
I fully support Keir Starmer’s decision to accept all the EHRC recommendations in full and, in accordance with my own lifelong convictions, will do what I can to help the Party move on, united against antisemitism which has been responsible for so many of history’s greatest crimes against humanity.”
While this is a clear climbdown from his position last month, and a plea to be let back in, Corbyn has stopped short of issuing an apology. That may further anger anti-racism campaigners. Today, his case may be referred to an anti-semitism panel made up of Labour’s ruling national executive committee.