Starmer's claim of Jewish community's restored trust in Labour 'decidedly premature'Campaign Against Antisemitism says analysis of results in Barnet show the problem is not solved
An anti-racism charity has criticised Labour Party leader Keir Starmer for making 'decidely premature' claims about the party's success in tackling antisemitism following last week's election victory in Barnet.
The vote saw Labour win outright control of the borough, which has the largest Jewish population in the UK, for the first time ever but Campaign Against Antisemitism says that - with the exception of the new ward of Whetstone - the areas of the borough with largest Jewish populations mostly did not elect any Labour councillors.
Speaking to activists in Barnet, Starmer said: “My first words as leader of our Party, when I took over in April 2020, was that we were going to root out antisemitism from our Party, not tolerate it any more in our party, change our party. I said the test of that will be whether voters trust us again in places like Barnet, and they’ve done it."
While the charity describes the Labour Party under Starmer's leadership as 'a more promising place' than it was under his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, it believes the positive claims do not reflect the current reality.
Campaign Against Antisemitism's head of political and goverment investigations Joe Glasman said: "Sir Keir Starmer’s suggestion that the success of local Labour candidates in the heavily-Jewish borough of Barnet demonstrates that Labour has restored the trust of the Jewish community is decidedly premature.
He added: "Our latest polling has shown that 81% of the Jewish community still feels that Labour is too tolerant of antisemitism. Yesterday, the most Jewish neighbourhoods in Barnet, including Edgware, Finchley Church End, Garden Suburb, Golders Green, Hendon, Mill Hill and Totteridge, returned not a single Labour councillor. We hope that Labour will concentrate on doing the work of fighting antisemitism rather than misleadingly implying that the problem is solved."
Responding to the criticism, the new Labour leader of Barnet Council Barry Rawlings said: "Both Keir and I know that our work fighting antisemitism isn't finished. He pledged to tear it out by its roots when he became Labour leader two years ago. And I tabled a motion five years ago - for Barnet Council to adopt the IHRA [International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] definition - and we were the first council in the country to do so. We are united in our mission to rid the Labour Party of antisemitism and that, of course, continues.
"As Keir said over the weekend - we're under no illusions that our work to renew and restore our relationship with the Jewish community is complete. But what we've had is a nod of approval from the Jewish community that we're heading in the right direction. And that is in stark contrast to Labour under Corbyn where we had doors slammed in our faces. Conversations this year, by comparison, couldn't have been more different. We have come a long way and that trust, I think, is returning ."