Amber Rudd MP calls on Jeremy Corbyn to investigate Hastings and Rye Labour party over ‘anti-Semitism’ claims
The Work and Pensions Secretary, who is Hastings and Rye MP, urged the Labour leader and his deputy Tom Watson to place the local party under ‘special behavioural measures’ for anti-Semitism.
She said: “Jewish people in Hastings and Rye deserve far better than a local Labour party obsessed with peddling conspiracy theories about Jewish people.
“For too long, the Labour party in Hastings and Rye has deliberately goaded and baited Jews with hateful language and got away with it.
“This latest salvo is a disgrace and shows that the local party is infected with anti-Semitism.
“I know there are Labour party members and councillors in Hastings who are appalled by this. They need to raise their voices.
“And now Jeremy Corbyn and Tom Watson must immediately place the CLP under special behavioural measures and personally oversee efforts to treat this infection.”
Ms Rudd’s demands come as her office revealed Hastings and Rye Labour party passed an emergency motion, calling for MP Chris Williamson to be reinstated to the party immediately.
Mr Williamson was suspended from the Labour Party for comments he made about the party’s response to criticism over its handling of allegations of anti-Semitism within the party.
Ms Rudd’s office also said the emergency motion dismissed those concerned with anti-Semitism as ‘crying wolf’.
Last month Hastings borough councillor Dany Louise quit Labour amid the anti-Semitism row surrounding the party.
Cllr Dany Louise, who represents Old Town ward now as an Independent, said the ‘level of denial’ by Jeremy Corbyn supporters over Labour’s anti-Semitism problem left her ‘in despair’.
Her resignation was reported in the Jewish Chronicle and her full resignation letter published on the newspaper’s website.
Ken Maitland, chairman of Hastings and Rye CLP, said: “I reject entirely Amber Rudd’s claims about our local party. We are a vibrant, welcoming and diverse local party which is absolutely committed to fighting racism and anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semites are a tiny minority within our party of more than half a million people but one anti-Semite is too many.
“Polling has shown that anti-Semitic attitudes are higher among Conservative voters than Labour voters so clearly all parties must work together to tackle this prejudice across the political spectrum.
“We are very pleased to have a close relationship with members of the local Jewish community and the many active Jewish members in our CLP.
“We will always ensure our meetings are welcoming, comradely and without any discrimination.”
Peter Chowney, leader of Hastings Borough Council and Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, said: “I attended this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day service. Hastings Borough Council is one of the few councils still to hold such a service.
“The council organises the venue and prints the programmes, but much of the ceremony is organised by Dr Shelley Katz, of the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux.
“We must continue to remember the Jewish Holocaust, and every other genocidal event, and how each of them stemmed from a simple assertion that a particular group, identified by ethnic, religious or cultural characteristics, was somehow inferior, and a threat.
“And that’s still happening, every day, from attitudes to refugees and asylum seekers to a diffuse xenophobia, a fear of anyone who’s different and how they shouldn’t be allowed to live among us.
“So we should all continue to challenge racism and irrational prejudice wherever we witness it, if we’re to avoid history repeating itself, here in Europe or anywhere else in the world. Holocaust Memorial Day is one way to raise awareness of, and to challenge, the attitudes that lead to such terrible atrocities.
“Locally we have always reviled anti-Semitism and, nationally, Labour has signed up to The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of this. We continue to support Holocaust Memorial Day and as a socialist and internationalist I remain committed to eliminating discrimination and prejudice in all its forms.”