Jeremy Corbyn was accused of being in denial about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and “shooting the messenger” after suggesting a damning report on the issue was biased.
The Home Affairs select committee report found the Labour leader has failed to provide “consistent leadership” in tackling anti-Semitism in the party’s ranks.
I’m afraid he’s still in denial and that sort of response is deeply disappointing for the committeeTIM LOUGHTON
But responding, Mr Corbyn suggested it was biased against the party and described its sharp criticism of an inquiry into the issue by Labour peer Baroness Chakrabarti as “unfair”.
The acting chairman of the committee, Conservative MP Tim Loughton, said the Labour leader’s reaction shows he is still failing to take the issue seriously.
Mr Loughton said: “I’m afraid he’s still in denial and that sort of response is deeply disappointing for all members of the committee.”
He said the report investigated anti-Semitism within all political parties, adding: “This is not about trying to score points off Jeremy Corbyn and I’m disappointed that it seems to have been accepted by him in that manner because that doesn’t do any of us any good.”
The cross-party committee also questioned whether Mr Corbyn “fully appreciates” the nature of post-war anti-Semitic abuse. Labour MP Pat McFadden insisted the report should be taken seriously.
Appearing to refer to the Labour leader, Mr McFadden said the party should not “fall into the trap” of pointing to its anti-racism record as proof that it could not have a problem with anti-Semitism.
“I hope we don’t make the mistake here of shooting the messenger,” he said.
“I hope we take the report seriously, and I hope we don’t fall into the trap that sometimes I see when these accusations are wielded, that we point to anti-racism records and say, look at our virtue in our record here, that must mean we can’t be anti-Semitic.
“Let me be clear about this: pointing to your own sense of righteousness is no excuse for nastiness or cruelty to someone else. So I think we should take this very seriously indeed.”
In the report, Labour was accused of “incompetence” over its handling of allegations of anti-Semitism, including incidents involving former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker, who was recently removed as vice-chairwoman of the Corbyn-supporting Momentum group.
Mr Corbyn said: “The report’s political framing and disproportionate emphasis on Labour risks undermining the positive and welcome recommendations made in it.”