James Forsyth

The battle for Labour’s soul

The battle for Labour's soul
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Normally, when we talk about a party being in ‘crisis’ we are really referring to a policy dispute or a bad set of election results. But the crisis currently engulfing Labour is far more serious than that. It is about the party’s very soul, I argue in The Sun this morning.

The events of this week have demonstrated that Labour has a serious, and growing, problem with anti-Semitism. One of the party’s newly elected MPs has been suspended for making anti-Semitic comments and the party’s former Mayor of London has been suspended from the party after a bizarre and distasteful attempt to link Hitler and Zionism.

But Jeremy Corbyn has been reluctant to accept that there is a problem. On Thursday he was busy arguing that talk of a ‘crisis’ is being whipped up by those worried about the ‘strength of the party at local level’; he was being wilfully blind to the rise of anti-Semitism in the party. He has now established an independent inquiry into the issue to be led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former head of Liberty.

The political focus will now switch to next week’s elections. On that front, it is telling that Labour’s leaders in London, Wales and Scotland aren’t keen to campaign with Corbyn ahead of Thursday’s vote and that Corbyn himself has told The Guardian “We are placing no arbitrary figures on anything and I don’t think anyone else should. They are local elections, there are inevitably local factors, let’s see what happens,”

But the events of the last few days have demonstrated, Corbyn doesn’t just do political damage to Labour, he also leaves the party morally compromised. If Labour want to be a party that people can vote for in good conscience, they need to rid themselves of their leader and his moral blind spots.