The row over anti-Semitism within the Labour Party should not be “hyperbolised and exaggerated”, the shadow attorney general has said.
Baroness Chakrabarti said Jeremy Corbyn had been “misquoted, misrepresented and spun” amid accusations he held anti-Semitic views.
Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) yesterday agreed to incorporate the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, including all its examples of prejudice against Jews, in the party’s code of conduct.
But Jewish groups hit out after the move was accompanied by a statement that said the party will ensure the changes do “not in any way undermine freedom of expression” on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.
Labour MPs and peers will also vote today on the adoption of the full IHRA definition and examples into the Parliamentary Labour Party’s standing orders.
Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who clashed with Corbyn over anti-Semitism, said the Labour leader had “sullied” the adoption of the IHRA definition by trying to amend it.
But speaking to BBC Radio 4′s Today programme, Chakrabarti said there NEC decision was “not a dilution”.
The NEC statement was “about reassuring people that you can be a critic of Israel without being anti-Semitic, you just need to conduct your debate in a certain way,” she said.
Chakrabarti dismissed comparisons – made by former chief rabbi Lord Sacks – between Corbyn’s previous comments about Zionism with the “rivers of blood” speech made by Enoch Powell.
“I’m a British Asian who grew up in the 70s and 80s, I remember the real Enoch Powell, before this stuff gets hyperbolised and exaggerated,” she said.
“I know what it’s like to be listening to misreports in the media that make you feel scared.”
She said Hodge and Sacks should “come back into the room” for discussions.
“I will open the door. I will put the kettle on. But come back into the room because it’s time for reasonable debate,” she said.