Express & Star comment: A day of shame for Labour

A day of shame for the Labour Party.

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

Those words come from the leader of the Labour Party who, in an astonishing move, has now suspended his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn.

The report by the UK human rights watchdog on anti-Semitism within Labour is a damning indictment of Mr Corbyn's leadership, or lack of it.

But it is also a damning indictment of sections of the membership as it pinpoints a culture in which, at best, the party did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism "and at worst, could be seen to accept it."

This is a lasting stain against the name of a party which so often wraps itself in a cloak of moral superiority on the issue of racism, and yet on the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission's report indulges in that which it so self-righteously condemns, so long as the targets are the right kind of minority – the Jews.

Indeed, there seems to be a self-serving attitude that being Labour involves automatic acquittal on the charge of racism. Ken Livingstone, who is named in the report, has indignantly described himself as a "lifelong anti-racist."

Corbyn, who was a member of an anti-racism group during his young days in Shropshire, says the scale of anti-Semitism in the party has been "dramatically overstated for political reasons."

This from the man who was there, but apparently not involved.

The fact that Corbyn has now been suspended will be seen by many within and outside the party as vindication for their doubts about his suitability for leadership. The report will make for upsetting reading for many, but they will also be thankful for Sir Keir Starmer's swift action.

Under Sir Harold Wilson's premiership, Labour was one of Israel's closest friends. How times have changed. Now it faces an enormous task to rebuild the confidence of Britain's Jewish community.

Corbyn never seemed to take anti-Semitism as seriously as he should. In contrast Sir Keir has been forthright and unambiguous in his denunciation.

Acceptance of wrong is, at least, the first step towards rehabilitation.

Regardless of your political view, a strong opposition is an essential component of a healthy democracy and this makes Sir Keir's task even more important as he seeks to re-establish the credibility of his party.

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