Sir Keir Starmer on 'shameful' Labour anti-Semitism report and the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn
Sir Keir Starmer has spoken out about the "shameful" Labour anti-Semitism report and the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn during an appearance on Good Morning Britain.
"I accept the findings yesterday and I accept the responsibility that comes with those findings. That’s why I apologised in very clear terms yesterday...It was a collective finding and we all have to take responsibility for that," he told Ben and Charlotte.
"My responsibility as Leader of the Labour Party is to act on those. That’s why I’ve said we will implement the recommendations. We will agree an action plan within six weeks setting out the practical steps we will take. I’ve tried to rebuild trust with the Jewish communities… they say to me, and they’re absolutely right about this, ‘Keir, we’ll judge you by what you do, not by what you say’. They’re absolutely right about that," he added.
"I’m happy to be judged by what I do in response to this report. Because we will implement those recommendations."
Asked if he should have spoken to former Labour Party MP Luciana Berger sooner, he said: "I spoke to her earlier this week and I know she feels I should have contacted her sooner and she may well be right about that. I did speak to Louise Ellman, a day or two after Louise left, I said this to Louise, it is my public position, I will only be satisfied we’ve done what we need to do in the Labour Party when people who’ve left the party because of anti-Semitism feel it’s safe to return. Whether they do return is a matter for them, I won’t speak for them. But I made that commitment to Louise Ellman."
"I’ve now set it as my own test, I’ve obviously got to change the structure, the process, the culture.. in the end, the test will be do those that left the Party feel that it’s a safe place for them to return. I’m determined that we can do that," he said.
Asked if the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn overshadows the key issue of tackling anti-Semitism he said: "Let me set out what I had hoped would happen yesterday because the findings were shameful and I thought it was absolutely right to accept the findings in full, to accept the recommendations in full and be absolutely committed to carrying out those recommendations with the commission and to apologise for the hurt and grief that had been caused to our Jewish communities, our Jewish members and supporters.
"In the build-up to yesterday, I’d had extensive discussions with Jewish leaders, Jewish communities about how yesterday would go. I wanted to draw a line in the sand and demonstrate my commitment that we will root out anti-Semitism and I think Jewish community leaders, Jewish people, that’s what they wanted yesterday – an honest recognition by the Labour Party of what had gone wrong, a clear apology for the hurt and the grief and then an ability to move forward in a constructive way and put in the necessary changes, to make sure that never again will anti-Semitism be tolerated in the Labour Party."
Asked about the tone of Jeremy Corbyn’s response he said: “I was very disappointed. Not least because when I made my response in my press conference, I was very clear that the Labour Party I lead will not tolerate anti-Semitism nor will it tolerate the argument that is about denying or minimising anti-Semitism on the basis it’s exaggerated or it’s a factional issue in and out of the Labour Party or the media. Both are wrong and I was very clear in my response. I had actually spoken to Jeremy the night before the report and told him how I was going to approach it."
Mr Starmer continued: "I was very disappointed. A difficult decision was then taken yesterday in relation to his suspension, which I fully support. It was a difficult decision as you can imagine, it was the right decision, it was the General Secretary’s decision using the powers that he’s got. But leadership sometimes involves difficult decisions and that’s why I set out my response in the way that I did.”
Responding to the question about whether there's civil war in the Party, Mr Starmer responded: "
Asked if there’s civil war in the Party: “No, I don’t think so. It does not need to and I certainly hope that it doesn’t. I want to unite the Party. I stood to be leader of the Party on the basis of uniting the Party."
Mr Starmer added: "I also made a very, very clear commitment that I would root out anti-Semitism and I’m not going to shirk from the difficult decisions that that requires me to make. In the six months or so I’ve been leader we’ve made a number of changes to the Labour Party already. I’ve taken some difficult decisions some people thought I wouldn’t take because I’m not going to shirk from that.
"It’s a matter of values for me, it’s what I’m about, it’s what I think the Labour Party is about. We cannot have the words Labour Party and anti-Semitism in the same sentence ever again."