Jeremy Corbyn has rejected the conclusions of a report on antisemitism in Labour, saying the extent of the problem was “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by opponents and the media, and that this harmed Jewish people.
In a Facebook post responding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission report, which found Labour responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination over antisemitism, the former party leader said he had been obstructed by party officials in trying to tackle the issue. However, he did express regret that “it took longer to deliver that change than it should”.
“One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media,” Corbyn said.
“That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated. My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome. While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period.”
The EHRC report was launched after complaints about antisemitism within Labour during Corbyn’s time as leader. It cites “serious failings in the Labour party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints”.
Corbyn said that when he took over as Labour leader in 2015, “the party’s processes for handling complaints were not fit for purpose”.
His statement added: “Reform was then stalled by an obstructive party bureaucracy.”
Corbyn argued that from 2018, the party’s new general secretary, Jennie Formby, and his officials “made substantial improvements, making it much easier and swifter to remove antisemites. My team acted to speed up, not hinder the process.”
He said: “Anyone claiming there is no antisemitism in the Labour party is wrong. Of course there is, as there is throughout society, and sometimes it is voiced by people who think of themselves as on the left.
“Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should.”