Labour’s leader and deputy leadership contenders have demonstrated their commitment to tackling antisemitism in the party by backing a series of pledges set out by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Within hours of the organisation launching its “10 pledges”, which include adopting the international definition of antisemitism with all its examples and clauses, the majority of hopefuls had given their support.
This included Rebecca Long Bailey, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer, who served in the shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the other two candidates, Lisa Nandy, who left Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, and Jess Phillips, who pointedly refused to join it.
Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, said: “The handling of antisemitism has been completely unacceptable. It has caused deep distress for the Jewish community, which we must all accept responsibility for and apologise. I support the recommendations put forward by the Board of Deputies.
“At the next election, I do not want a single member or activist to knock on a door and be told that a member of the public is not voting Labour because of antisemitism.”
Long Bailey, who is deemed closest to Corbyn, said Labour did not act quickly or robustly enough. In a piece for Jewish News, she said: “I will also enact all of the Board of Deputies’ recommendations, and I believe that our processes must be transparent, fully independent and with proper independent scrutiny.”
The 10 pledges include the party resolving its outstanding cases, actively condemning cases rather than using “bland and generic” language, and life-time bans for prominent offenders who have been expelled.
They also say that any MP who supports or provides a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled over antisemitic incidents should themselves be suspended from the party.
The deputy leadership hopefuls Rosena Allin-Khan and Ian Murray also backed the pledges.
Angela Rayner, who is also running for the deputy position, said: “At my launch, the first line in the sand is antisemitism. Cross that line and you’re out. Apologies are worthless without action.”