Senior Scottish Labour MSPs join call for action on anti-semitism

Jackie Baillie MSP has signed a petition calling on the Labour national executive committee to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Picture: John Devlin
Jackie Baillie MSP has signed a petition calling on the Labour national executive committee to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. Picture: John Devlin
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Senior Scottish Labour politicians have joined calls on the UK party’s national executive to adopt internationally-recognised guidelines on antisemitism in a bid to end a damaging row over Labour’s response to accusations of anti-Jewish hatred.

Jackie Baillie and Daniel Johnson, two MSPs in Scottish leader Richard Leonard’s frontbench team, have signed a petition calling on the Labour national executive committee (NEC) to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as part of its internal policies “in full and without delay”.

The NEC will decide what further action Labour will take in a crunch meeting on Tuesday, amid mounting recrimination that has seen Jeremy Corbyn accused of being an antisemite by one of his own MPs and the former chief rabbi of the UK.

Labour’s refusal to adopt the full IHRA definition as part of its equalities policy sparked the row, which has been fuelled by revelations about Mr Corbyn’s past comments about Zionism.

Nearly 900 Labour activists and supporters have signed the Solidarity Against Antisemitism petition, including Martin McCluskey, the party’s candidate for one of its top target seats, Inverclyde.

A Labour source said: “This is a clear indication of the strength of feeling in the party, both in Scotland and across the UK. Many more people would like to speak out, but fear coming under attack from Corbyn supporters.

“Other members have simply walked away from the party in disgust. This has been an utterly shameful episode in our history, which must be put to bed by the NEC.”

Mr Leonard, who will take part in the NEC meeting, also came under pressure from the Tories, who said it was his last chance to take a stand in support of the Jewish community.

“There’s been a real lack of leadership on this matter on both sides of the border, but now that can be addressed,” said Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw.

“If Richard Leonard does not back this definition of antisemitism, he will do irreparable damage to the relationship between his party and Jewish people in Scotland.”

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also insisted the IHRA definition must be adopted.

At the weekend, Dame Margaret Hodge said she had been vindicated after calling Jeremy Corbyn an “anti-Semitic racist”.

The former Labour minister was catapulted to the centre of the party’s antisemitism row when she confronted her leader in parliament over the party’s failure to adopt the internationally-agreed definition in July.

“I called him an anti-Semitic racist in July and everything that’s come out since then has confirmed my belief that I’m right,” she said.