Lucy Fisher, Dulcie Lee
Labour MPs suggest their own code on antisemitism
Labour MPs and peers appear likely to break with the party leadership and adopt a separate, tighter definition of antisemitism amid a row over tackling the problem. The party’s parliamentarians last night pushed forward an emergency motion at their weekly meeting that could lead to them adopting the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition and guidelines. Labour’s leadership has introduced a party-wide code of conduct that uses part of this internationalIy accepted definition but omits some of its official examples. Labour has insisted that its new rules expand on and contextualise the IHRA guidelines, claiming it goes further in places. The party has said that it will, however, review its definition. An attempt by MPs and peers to encourage the party to use the full guidelines in the code Iast week was overridden. Last night parliamentarians set in motion plans to split from the central party in adopting their own definition of antiJewish behaviour, which will be voted on after the summer recess. Dame Margaret Hodge, 73, who last week accused Mr Corbyn of being an antisemite, said that the meeting was “incredibly depressing and emotional”. She said: “There was a lot of passion in the room. The feeling is, ‘How the hell have we got into this position?” Lord Prescott, the former deputy prime minister, was a lone voice in the room saying that he did not believe the Jewish community had lost trust in Labour, according to several sources. Earlier in the day it was revealed that Dame Margaret, who is Jewish, had instructed lawyers to contact the party about an investigation that had been launched into her conduct. A Labour spokesman last week warned that “action will be taken” against her after her confrontation with Mr Corbyn outside the Commons chamber. It was claimed that she swore at the Labour leader, which she denied. A letter sent to Labour by Mischon de Reya on Dame Margaret’s behalf called into question the “fairness and legitimacy” of the apparent inquiry, which it said was seen as thoughtless and an attempt to silence her. It said that she was receiving serious abuse in light of the inquiry. Colleagues have gathered behind her over recent days and senior allies of Mr Corbyn have suggested the disciplinary process be dropped. John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, said: “Let’s just resolve this very, very quickly — almost drop the complaint and move on — or if someone wants the complaint investigated, let’s get that done quickly.” Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow solicitor-general, defended Labour’s approach. Referring to the IHRA’s examples of antisemitism, he said many of them were “adopted word for word in our code of conduct”, while in others “the ground is covered” in the code.