Jeremy Corbyn demands swift resolution to Ian Austin investigation
Jeremy Corbyn has called for an investigation into Black Country MP Ian Austin to be dealt with as quickly as possible – but refused to back his deputy Tom Watson in calling for the inquiry to be dropped.
Mr Austin is facing possible suspension from the party after an internal inquiry was launched into his behaviour during a heated argument with chairman Ian Lavery over tackling antisemitism.
The investigation should be dropped, according to West Bromwich East MP Mr Watson, who has said the party will be unfit for Government if urgent action was not taken to deal with the overhanging issue.
But speaking to the Express & Star during a visit to Walsall, Mr Corbyn said: “A complaint has been received, it is being investigated and I think it should be left to be investigated and dealt with, but hopefully as quickly as possible.
“I don’t want these things hanging around.”
It comes after an internal inquiry into Labour MP Margaret Hodge was dropped. That was launched by the party after she called Mr Corybn ‘an antisemite and a racist’ in the House of Commons.
Her comments were made after the party introduced a new code of conduct adopted from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which excluded several examples.
Some in the Jewish community said it should have been accepted in full. A review of the code is now being carried out.
Last week, Mr Watson said the ongoing arguments over antisemitism within the party will mean it will ‘disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment’ if they were not ended.
And yesterday, Mr Corbyn was drawn on a picture taken of him holding a wreath at a memorial for member of the terrorist group that carried out the Munich Olympics massacre in 1992, saying he was present but ‘I don’t think I was actually involved in it [the wreath-laying].
Mr Corbyn said: “I want us to move on and want us to be in a place where the party is quite clear we don’t accept antisemitism in any form whatsoever.
“That’s why the National Executive Committee did approve a very tough code of conduct and agreed to consult on the examples in conjunction with the code of conduct and a decision will be made by the committee.
“We need to make sure we don’t close down perfectly legitimate debate and discussion on Israel and Palestine and ensure we can have a proper debate about Middle East but of course it must never be conducted in an atmosphere of racism or any form of antisemitism.”
In April, Mr Corbyn told the Express & Star around 70 alleged cases of antisemitism were being looked into as part of an attempt by the party to tackle the issue.
Yesterday, on the cases, he said:”Alot have been resolved and in some cases there has been sanctions for admonishments issued to people, in some cases there was nothing to answer for.
“We look at each one as quickly as we can.
“I don’t want cases hanging around and certainly since Jennie Formby became general secretary we have been much more rapid in dealing with all cases.
“If an objection or complaint is made it should be investigated quickly from the point of view of those who made complaint and those subject of the complaint.
“But it does put in perspective that any issues involve less than 0.01 per cent of party members.”
Arriving dressed in an open-collar shirt and grey jacket, the party leader had hoped to discuss the strategy which aims to build a strong future for the manufacturing industry in the region.
Mr Corbyn, walking through the doors to Accord Group's plant, faced a media hurdle within the small entrance hall.
He hands in his pockets and with a smile across his face, Mr Corbyn walked through the front entrance of Accord Group where he met Walsall South MP Valerie Vaz.
'Hello everyone', he said, before being taken inside the factory, away from the media, and to meet the bosses of Accord, including its executive commercial director, Alan Yates.
The tour saw Mr Corbyn, who by now had been given a high visibility jacket, taken around the factory of 20 employees which creates the timber frames for the group's managed homes.
He was then taken to see an estate of newly-built homes across the road and met up with a newly-moved in family - Sara Allen, 34, with son Kay Abley, nine.
But print media, including the Express & Star were not allowed to follow.