Jeremy Corbyn's supporters in the Labour party have been on the defensive today, following the announcement that a group of moderate MPs have defected from the party. In particular, the Independent Group's scathing description of Labour as 'institutionally anti-Semitic' has left many worried that the charge may harm their electoral chances.
But if the Labour stalwarts were hoping to convince voters that the party takes the issue of anti-Semitism within its own ranks seriously, they may want to make sure that Len McCluskey is kept off the airwaves. The general secretary of Unite and longtime ally of Jeremy Corbyn was being interviewed by BBC News this afternoon, but seemed to give the impression that anti-Semitism in Labour wasn't a major problem:
'The issue about anti-Semitism, I just think is grossly unfair. You have a new general secretary [of the Labour party] whose done more in the few months that she's been in office than previous administrations. She's increased the number of people who've heard these cases, still a very small minority of Labour party members and I think the whole thing is contrived'
He seemed to be joined in this view by former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who in a separate interview on talkRadio insisted that he had 'never heard an anti-Semitic comment' after 50 years in Labour.
With allies like these, no wonder moderate MPs wanted to form a new party...