POLITICS
08/09/2018 14:33 BST | Updated 10/09/2018 12:05 BST

Labour 'Led By Anti-Semites And Racists,' Says Former Equalities Watchdog Trevor Phillips

'We have to find a way to talk to each other with respect.'

PA Archive/PA Images

Labour is now led by “anti-Semites and racists”, the former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has said.

Trevor Phillips warned on Saturday there was now a dangerous level of “incivility” in British politics as he hit out at Jeremy Corbyn.

“It doesn’t help that one of our great parties, the one that I belong to, is led by anti-Semites and racists, who basically want to essentially eliminate anyone who disagrees with them,” he said.

Phillips, a Labour Party member, said “we have to find a way to talk to each other with respect”.

“Part of our problems at the moment in dealing with division is we don’t have a process for dealing with why we reach different conclusions,” he added.

Phillips was speaking at an event hosted by the Policy Exchange think-tank at the Big Tent Ideas Festival in Cambridge set up by Tory MP George Freeman.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “This is simply wrong and offensive.

“Jeremy Corbyn and the Party leadership are life-long anti-racists who are determined to tackle antisemitism both within the Labour party and in wider society, and the Labour Party is committed to rebuilding trust with the Jewish community.”

Last week Labour’s ruling body tried to draw a line under the party’s damaging anti-Semitism row by adopting internationally agreed guidelines on the issue.

Phillips attack on Corbyn today came as the Labour leader was urged to “call off the dogs” to stop centre-left MPs being driven out of the party.

Former frontbencher Chuka Umunna claimed so-called moderates were being systematically targeted by more hardline factions and now face a “clear and present danger” of being run out of the party.

A number of Labour MPs who have been critical of Corbyn, particularly over his handling of the anti-Semitism row, have found themselves locked in battles with members of their constituency Labour party.

Labour Friends of Israel chairwoman Joan Ryan, a former minister under Tony Blair, and Luton South MP Gavin Shuker, both lost local no confidence votes on Thursday.

Blair has also again attacked Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party and questioned whether it can be “taken back” by moderates.

Corbyn was asked during a visit to Leicester on Friday if Labour members were targeting MPs on their views.

“Every party has a right to question what its MP does,” he said. “Every party has a right to challenge them on what they do and how they represent the area and that’s exactly what happens in those areas as I understand it.”