Jeremy Corbyn was grilled by Andrew Neil last night in an interview for the BBC (you can read the full transcript here). The results were less than flattering. Labour’s leader was asked about his party’s response to anti-Semitism and gave a reply that raised more questions than it answered.
Corbyn referred Neil to Shami Chakrabarti’s supposedly independent inquiry into anti-Semitism in the Labour party. The subsequent report, published in June 2016, was widely seen as a whitewash, with the Board of Deputies calling it ‘beyond disappointing’. That perception was compounded when Corbyn decided to give Chakrabarti a peerage in August that same year. Marie van der Zyl, the Board’s vice-president, described the situation as a ‘whitewash for peerages scandal’.
So those who followed Corbyn’s comments closely last night will have been surprised to see the Labour leader appeared to suggest that he had been involved in the writing of the report. Neil asked Corbyn whether the phrase ‘Rothschild’s Zionists run Israel and world government’ was anti-Semitic. Corbyn replied:
I made that very clear in the Chakrabarti Report, which we did very early on… during my leadership.
Perhaps it was an honest slip of the tongue. Or perhaps the report was less independent than we were initially led to believe. You can see the exchange here: