Gordon Brown pleaded with Jewish voters “not to give up” on Labour as the party was mired in another round of infighting over its response to antisemitism claims.
The former prime minister said there had to be a cultural shift in the party and Jeremy Corbyn had to show he could enforce the necessary changes.
During an event in Hampstead Synagogue in north London, Brown called for the automatic expulsion of people against whom there is “irrefutable evidence” of antisemitism, adding “these cases clearly exist”.
Asked by an audience member whether he would advise the Jewish community to vote Labour, he said: “I would urge you, tempting as it may be, not to give up on the party who in its origins was a party that fought racism in this country.”
Another audience member suggested Corbyn may need to stand down for everyone to be able to move forward on the issue.
Brown said he would not be drawn on Corbyn’s future but added: “I am going to say, there has to be change of policy.
“Can the present leader conduct and enforce that change of policy? That is for him to answer.”
His comments came as Labour is braced for further revelations over antisemitism in a major TV documentary.
Brown’s intervention came after Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson hit out at a clampdown on former staff blowing the whistle on the party’s handling of antiemitism allegations ahead of a BBC Panorama documentary due to be aired shortly.
Up to half a dozen ex-employees have torn up non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) to speak to the programme.
Carter Ruck – acting on behalf of Labour – has written to Sam Matthews, the party’s former head of disputes, warning he could face legal action for breaking his NDA.
Another former aide also received warnings last year from a different law firm representing Labour.
Watson said: “Using expensive media lawyers in attempt to silence staff members is as futile as it is stupid. It’s not the Labour way and I deplore it.”