Two former Labour MPs back Chief Rabbi after he condemns Jeremy Corbyn

In a column in The Times, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvi (top right) condemned the way the Labour leadership had dealt with antisemitism in the party. Picture: PA
In a column in The Times, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvi (top right) condemned the way the Labour leadership had dealt with antisemitism in the party. Picture: PA
Share this article
Have your say

Two former Labour MPs have spoken out in support of the condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn from the Chief Rabbi of the UK.

In a column in The Times, Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: "The way in which the (Labour) leadership has dealt with anti-Jewish racism is incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud - of dignity and respect for all people."

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. Picture: JPI

Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis. Picture: JPI

READ MORE: Poll: Tories hanging on and Labour facing wipe out in first Scottish analysis

He added: "When December 12 arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake."

Luciana Berger, who quit Labour in February over the party's alleged anti-Semitic prejudice, said on Twitter: "Unprecedented and devastating intervention from the Chief Rabbi.

"During the last meeting I had with Jeremy Corbyn at the end of 2017 I told him about the many public and private Facebook groups that were littered with antisemitic posts which used the Labour leader's name/and photo in their group name.

"Nothing was done about it following our meeting.

"Tonight the party says 'that no one who engages in it (antisemitism) does so in his (Jeremy Corbyn's) name.' But that is exactly what has happened."

Ms Berger is standing as a Liberal Democrat candidate in the north London constituency of Golders Green in the General Election on December 12.


Another former Labour MP, Ian Austin, also spoke in support of the Chief Rabbi.

Mr Austin, who quit Labour in February, said on Twitter: "It is unprecedented for the Chief Rabbi to have to do this.

"It is heartbreaking to see a party so many of us joined to fight racism and which had such a proud record of fighting for equality reduced to this.

"Utterly shameful. A complete disgrace. Corbyn & co should be so ashamed."

Mr Austin has resigned from Parliament and is not running in the election.


The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby posted a statement of support for the Chief Rabbi on twitter.

"That the Chief Rabbi should be compelled to make such an unprecedented statement at this time ought to alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews," the Archbishop said.

The Chancellor, Sajid Javid, said he was "saddened" by the Chief Rabbi's comments.

"Very saddened to read this. To think the Chief Rabbi of a European nation has to say this about a contender for high office in 2019," the Chancellor wrote on Twitter.

"We should all reflect on the state of our politics."

Dr Jonathan Romain, who is a writer and broadcaster as well as the Rabbi of Maidenhead Synagogue, also released a statement in support of Mr Mirvis.

"Unfortunately, the Chief Rabbi is totally justified in blaming Jeremy Corbyn for allowing anti-semitism to permeate the Labour Party," Dr Romain said.

"It was never an issue under any previous Labour leader be it Michael Foot on the left, Tony Blair on the right, or Neil Kinnock in the centre."

Dr Romain said he was not taking a stance "against Labour per-se, but against Corbyn-led Labour", and that his stance would be abandoned the moment Mr Corbyn was no longer leader.

He added: "Religion should not be party political, but this is a moment to take a stand against a party that has a noble history of fighting prejudice, but has currently lost its way and needs to be resoundingly defeated until it regains its principles."

'Gone too far'

But the Labour peer Lord Dubs, who arrived in the UK in 1939 as a six-year-old refugee fleeing the persecution of Jews in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia, said the Chief Rabbi had "gone too far" and that Jeremy Corbyn is not anti-Semitic.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Lord Dubs said: "I think, I have a lot of respect for the Chief Rabbi, I've co-operated with him on campaigns on behalf of child refugees, I've spoken to him in many synagogues and I've got a lot of positive feeling about the Jewish community, but I think today the Chief Rabbi has gone too far."

He added that Labour's race and faith manifesto, released today, "goes a long way to meeting some of the criticisms".

Lord Dubs said: "I think the Labour Party has been much too slow in getting to grips with this, and I've been critical of the Labour Party over the last two or three years, but I feel we are getting there, and I want to look at it from the point of view of where we are today and moving forward."

He added: "And I think Jeremy Corbyn himself is personally hurt at the accusations of anti-Semitism. I don't believe he is anti-Semitic, even though, under his leadership, things have happened which should have been dealt with much faster."