Corbyn announces inquiry into anti-Semitism in Labour party

Ken Livingstone is bullish about his suspension from the Labour party over anti-Semitism row. Picture: Getty Images

Ken Livingstone is bullish about his suspension from the Labour party over anti-Semitism row. Picture: Getty Images

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Jeremy Corbyn has proposed a tightening of Labour rules and launched an independent review into racism as Ken Livingstone claims Labour will have to lift his suspension over his remarks linking Adolf Hitler to Zionism.

A code of conduct would “make explicitly clear for the first time that Labour will not tolerate any form of racism, including anti-Semitism, in the party” and provide guidance on acceptable language.

Former Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti has been appointed to head a panel tasked with drawing up “a statement of principles and guidance about anti-Semitism and other forms of racism”.

The panel – whose vice-chairman is Professor David Feldman, director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism – is expected to consult the Jewish community and other minorities and report within two months.

Mr Corbyn insists there is no “crisis” within the party but his handling of anti-Semitism allegations, which have led to the suspension of long-time ally Ken Livingstone and Bradford West MP Naz Shah, has been criticised.

Announcing the attempted fightback, he said he had taken “decisive” action. “We have taken decisive action over allegations of anti-Semitism since I became leader, suspending all those involved from membership, and have set up an inquiry under Baroness Royall into reports of anti-Semitism in the Oxford University Labour club and elsewhere.

“There is no place for anti-Semitism or any form of racism in the Labour Party, or anywhere in society. We will make sure that our party is a welcoming home to members of all minority communities.”

Mr Livingstone’s comments were branded “vile, offensive and crass” by the party’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, who said he had “let down the Labour Party”.

But the former mayor of London claims that the party’s internal inquiry would have to lift his suspension and let him back in because “it’s hard for somebody to decide to suspend me from the party” when he had been making the same point for 30 years.

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