Labour MP in Portsmouth says 'damning' EHRC must lead to a change in the party's culture

THE Labour MP for Portsmouth South has said his party must rebuild trust following a ‘damning’ report into how anti-Semitism was handled during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

Thursday, 29th October 2020, 9:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 29th October 2020, 10:47 pm

A report by The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found ‘unlawful acts of discrimination and harassment’ as the Labour Party dealt with reports of anti-Semitism during Mr Corbyn’s leadership.

Reacting to the findings, the Islington MP said the scale of anti-Semitism within the Labour party had been ‘dramatically overstated’ – a response that led to him being suspended from the party yesterday.

Stephen Morgan, who is the Labour group leader on Portsmouth City Council and MP for Portsmouth South, said the report was ‘damning’.

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He said: ‘Portsmouth has a strong and historic Jewish community.

‘In my recent dialogue with Jewish constituents, I know the pain and upset many have felt about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

'The EHRC report is damning and I fully support the statement by Keir Starmer today.

‘The party must now change its culture to rebuild trust, and we will.’

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Keir Starmer, the current leader of the party, said the report was ‘hard to read’ and represented ‘a day of shame’ for the party.

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The EHRC’s report comes as ‘no surprise’ to Portsmouth City Councillor John Ferrett, who left the party four years ago in protest at Jeremy Corbyn becoming its leader.

Cllr Ferrett said: ‘Clearly we have seen those stories over the last few years, and the stuff the EHRC was focusing on was public knowledge – what’s gone on in the Labour party has been disgraceful.

‘And people like Corbyn and his defenders are absolutely disgraceful to try to discredit an independent body that’s looking into breaches.’

Bu the independent councillor said he could see himself supporting his former party in the future given its reaction to the controversy.

He added: ‘(Politics) has become dangerously tribal and that has allowed people like Jeremy Corbyn to become leader.

‘I’m hoping that it’s a sign that Labour is turning away from that.

‘They are taking the first step, but Kier Starmer will have to deal with not only Corbyn but the many supporters he has within the party.’

In 2018, a Labour candidate for Portsmouth City Council resigned from the party following allegations that she sent anti-Semitic tweets in 2013, and a former acting secretary for Momentum Portsmouth was investigated after posting inflammatory comments on social media.

The EHRC report will ‘mean a huge amount’ to those who have suffered anti-Semitic abuse, according to Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt.

She said: ‘I know so many people who have been on the receiving end of really vile anti-Semitic hatred.

‘The report today will mean a huge amount to them.

‘It demonstrates that they weren’t over-reacting, or making it up or exaggerating.

‘Those still making excuses for antisemitism have no place in British politics.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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