BBC documentary exposes rampant Labour anti-Semitism

John Ware

They detailed the political interference from Jeremy Corbyn's office, the undermining of staff and a toxic culture that pervaded.

When one interviewee said that, if he were not leader, Corbyn would likely be expelled from the party for antisemitism, Labour called the claim "offensive nonsense".

Writing to Labour's general secretary, he also criticised the party's response to claims on the BBC's Panorama about its handling of anti-Semitism cases.

Former Party members who appeared on the show, including Kat Buckingham and Louise Withers Green, described the antisemitism problem as "massive" and "real", adding that some "horrendous things" prompted them to speak up despite signing a non-disclosure agreement.

Labour has denied the claims and written a complaint to the BBC.

The membership organisation say they have collected testimonies from dozens of current and former Labour staff-members since September 2018 to hand to the equalities watchdog.

In reply, Ms Formby said Mr Watson was abusing his "considerable platform" to "denigrate" the progress that had been made in combating anti-Semitism.

Britain's main opposition Labour Party was in turmoil Thursday after a television documentary renewed allegations that anti-Semitism is rife within its ranks.

"There's nearly a permissive culture that people can use anti-Jewish, racist language both in our meetings and to each other on social media and we've failed to address that properly", Watson told BBC radio.

He claimed Mr Corbyn was the "only one" who could fix the issue.

Labour, which has been braced for the Panorama accusations, wrote to BBC director-general Lord Hall to complain ahead of the broadcast.

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He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think we have got to take decisive action".

"I think it is important that we listen to what has been said and look ourselves at what is happening, but what we've got now is two groups of staff challenging the accuracy of [the accusations] so we will have to look at that".

Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope Not Hate, said the Panorama programme "was depressing and gut-wrenching". "That's why we need a new independent complaints procedure to tackle the issue once and for all, and to win back trust".

"But the fact that the party in our wonderfully tolerant city has caused untold distress to our Jewish community shows something has gone seriously wrong".

In response to the claims about Mr Milne, a Labour Party spokesman said: "This allegation is false and malicious, and our response has been misrepresented by Panorama, throwing into doubt the extent and seriousness of their engagement with the Labour party's responses".

The backlash has mounted pressure on Jeremy Corbyn, with PaddyPower stating it has received a "huge number of bets" on the Labour Party leader leaving this year, as the odds tumble from 4/1 to 6/4.

"Whether he himself is an anti-Semite or not is an irrelevance".

"The Labour party will fully investigate any complaints concerning the antisemitic incidents reported by party members in interviews in the programme".

But shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, a close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted that Mr Watson knew "perfectly well that he can not make "demands" of Jennie Formby". For example, JVL said Panorama "fingered" people like Jackie Walker as antisemitic despite "no charge of antisemitism" being upheld against her. JVL also says the programme failed to mention that Walker is Jewish.

In one of those cases, Labour claims the program deceptively edited the content of an email sent by Milne to change the meaning.

He added: "It was an overtly biased intervention by the BBC in party political controversy". Since Jennie Formby became General Secretary the rate at which antisemitism cases have been dealt with has increased more than four-fold.

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