Jeremy Corbyn has attacked the “media glitterati” for its coverage of Labour amid a storm over his attendance at a wreath-laying for the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich terror attack.
Speaking to party members in Walsall on Monday evening, the Labour leader said the party had to say “absolutely no to anti-Semitism”.
Corbyn has endured weeks of bad headlines over his handling of allegations of anti-Jewish racism within Labour.
Defending his leadership, he said: “I was elected to lead this party three years ago. And I am very proud to lead our party. Very proud of the membership we have attracted and very proud of the activity that now is within the party.
“I have been in the Labour Party all my life. I have never been anything else. I have only ever been in the Labour Party.”
He added: “It’s had its ups, it’s had its downs. We’ve had our great achievements. We have had some less great days.
“But at the end of the day the Labour Party represents the aspiration, the collective optimism, of ordinary people.”
Corbyn was speaking following his admission he attended a ceremony where a wreath was was laid in memory of Palestinians suspected of being behind the Munich Olympics massacre.
The row escalated dramatically on Monday after Corbyn clashed with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking last night, the Labour leader accused the press of failing to report how his party was challenging Theresa May’s government on its social, economic and international policies.
“Our campaigning is about those human values, that sense of justice that we want to develop in our society. That’s what Labour is about,” he said.
“You’re not going to hear a lot of this in mainstream media newspapers – you might hear some of it on television – but it’s very interesting.
“During the general election campaign public perceptions of Labour changed dramatically as soon as the broadcasting rules kicked in and they had to give us equal time to the others. During the election campaign it suddenly all changed.”
Corbyn made fun of “many people in the media glitterati” who predicted Labour’s 2017 manifesto would be unpopular with voters. “Our support increased throughout that election campaign,” he said.
He told supporters the party was “very strong indeed” when activists “respect each others values”.
“When we say absolutely no to anti-Semitism, when we say no to islamophobia, no to racism in any form, we are stronger as a party, as a society and as a community,” he said.
The Labour leader will campaign in Corby in Northamptonshire tomorrow and in Mansfield in Nottinghamshire on Thursday.
He will then spend four days campaigning in Scotland, which he said was “coming back” to supporting Labour.
And he told May if she she decided to call another general election to “bring it on, we’re ready for it any time”.