Birmingham MP Shabana Mahmood told the Labour conference that antisemitism in the party was “shameful” – and apologised “unreservedly” to Jewish Labour members and the wider Jewish community.
Ms Mahmood, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, was speaking on behalf of Labour’s National Executive Committee, which is proposing the creation of a new independent complaints process to deal with antisemitism and any other allegations of prejudice within the Labour Party.
Urging delegates at Labour’s annual conference in Brighton to endorse the proposals, she said: “It has been a shameful period in our history, utterly horrifying and today with your support for these rule changes we decisively turn the page on that shameful period in our history.
“We apologise unreservedly to our Jewish members and to the wider Jewish community and we resolve from this conference floor today that no community will ever go through this pain again.”
Ms Mahmood, MP for Birmingham Ladywood, said that as “an Asian women of Kashmiri stock and a proudly practicing Muslim woman, I stand in unshakeable solidarity with my Jewish brothers and sisters across this movement.”
The proposed rule changes were criticised by some delegates, who said they were being proposed without enough consultation.
A damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year found the party was responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination. It said: “We found specific examples of harassment, discrimination and political interference in our evidence, but equally of concern was a lack of leadership within the Labour Party on these issues, which is hard to reconcile with its stated commitment to a zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism.”
Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn responded by insisting the problem had been exaggerated by his critics. He said: “One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
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