Labour peer Lord Parry Mitchell has quit the party over what he says are the “violent anti-Israel views” of Jeremy Corbyn’s allies.
“I think it’s very difficult if you are Jewish and you support Israel to be a member of the Labour Party,” he said today.
Since his first election as party leader in 2015, Corbyn has been dogged by accusations he does not take anti-Semitism within the party seriously enough. In June, Labour MP Ruth Smeeth demanded he resign as the party was not a “safe space for British Jews”.
Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme in Liverpool this morning it was “unfortunate” that Lord Mitchell had made his comments and hoped he would “reflect” on what he had said.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme today, Lord Mitchell said Labour was “now a lost cause” after Corbyn won re-election as leader yesterday.
“I’m Jewish and I’m very strongly Jewish and I make no bones about it and there’s no doubt in my mind that Jeremy himself is very lukewarm on this subject, he’s never been as vociferous in condemning anti-semitism as he should be, and when he does make a mention of it he combines it with other forms of racism, so he will never say specifically as far as anti-semitism is concerned,” Lord Mitchell said.
“But even more than that he surrounds himself with a coterie of people who hold violent, violent anti-Israel views and allied with it they are very hostile to Jews so, in my view, they’re pretty bad guys.”
“The first reason is that many of the issues that seem to be important to him and his friends, I’m absolutely opposed to, issues like you know I’m supportive of Nato, I’m supportive of Trident, I’m supportive of America and in particular I’m supportive of Israel and he and his group seem to me are very hostile to that.
“But secondly, you know, this is about leadership and this is about becoming prime minister, and Jeremy’s fine with his group of people and the membership who’ve put him in, but at the end of the day you’ve got to win an election and you’ve got to appeal to middle England and I don’t think he has a hope in hell of doing that.
“Jeremy has no leadership qualities whatsoever, his little group like him and they think he’s the Messiah, but he will never become the leader and prime minister of this country.”
“My view is that it’s a lost cause, I think the Momentum people, Corbyn’s pals, have got this party by the throat and they’re never gonna let it go, at least not in my lifetime. I think for Jews this is very very difficult, it’s a hard place to be. Some people have referred to it as being a cold house.”
Corbyn said: “It’s unfortunate he would say that because it’s not a fair comment.
“I would hope he would reflect on that, because clearly there are diverse views in the party on issues in the Middle East - but there is unity in the party in opposing any form anti-Semitism, any form of racism, in the party.”