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Ian Austin: I won't be intimidated in anti-Semitism row

By Pete Madeley | Dudley | Politics | Published:

Ian Austin has hit back at Len McCluskey over his attack on 'Corbyn-hater' MPs who have challenged the Labour leadership on anti-Semitism.

Ian Austin, left, has hit back at, right bottom, Len McCluskey over his attack on 'Jeremy Corbyn-hater' MPs

The Dudley North MP was one of five Labour MPs to be accused by the Unite chief of 'working overtime trying to present the Labour party as a morass of misogyny, anti-Semitism and bullying'.

Along with Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock and Wes Streeting, Mr Austin was said to be among 'a dismal chorus whose every dirge makes winning a Labour government more difficult'.

His comments came in the same week Mr Corbyn held a tense meeting with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council to discuss ways of tackling the problem of anti-Semitism within the Labour party.

Mr Austin was one of a number of Labour MPs to attend a Parliament Square demonstration last month, which saw Jewish leaders take a stand against Mr Corbyn's perceived lack of action against anti-Semitic behaviour.

He has called on Labour to get its house in order on issues of racism, and vowed to continue to fight against it regardless of any 'threats or intimidation'.

Mr Austin told the Express & Star: "Can't Len McCluskey understand how offensive it is for Jewish people who took part in that unprecedented protest and who have been caused such distress by anti-Semitism in the labour party, for him to dismiss their concerns as smears?

"He ought to be calling for action against people responsible for racism, not people complaining about it.

"The Labour party has always fought against racism and we've got to sort our own house out.

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"I've fought racism all my life so no amount of threats or intimidation will stop me from standing up against ant-Semitism."

Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer has defended his parliamentary colleagues against Mr McClucksy's comments.

He said it was 'obvious' that Labour had a problem with anti-Semtisim, saying: “Denying the problem is part of the problem”.

“I disagree with Len McCluskey. Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear, and it is obvious that we’ve got a problem with anti-Semitism and we’ve got to deal with it robustly and effectively.

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“Part of that is the disciplinary procedure which needs to be much quicker and much more effective.

"But there is also a cultural question, and part of that cultural question is to stop those that are denying there is even a problem. That is a part of the problem. So I am afraid I disagree with Len on this.”

Last week Labour MPs used a fiery Commons debate on anti-Semitism to urge Mr Corbyn to act against offenders within the party, including suspended former London Mayor Ken Livingstone.

Jewish leaders who met Mr Corbyn this week accused him of spurning concrete actions, describing the talks as a 'disappointing, missed opportunity'.

Pete Madeley

By Pete Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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