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David Blunkett says he ‘despairs’ over ‘antisemitism and thuggery’ in Labour

The Independent logo The Independent 5 days ago Staff and agencies
David Blunkett wearing a suit and tie © Provided by Independent Digital News & Media Limited

Labour's election campaign has suffered another heavy blow as former home secretary David Blunkett said the “antisemitism” and “thuggery” in the party makes him “despair”.

Lord Blunkett, who was an MP for 28 years and now sits as a Labour peer in the upper chamber, said the likelihood of Jeremy Corbyn winning a majority was “extraordinarily slim”.

But he urged moderates within the party to “stay and fight” to ensure the “voice of reason” prevailed, following deputy leader Tom Watson's decision to stand down.

The former Cabinet minister and party chairman's comments came after a bruising week for the party which has seen two of its former MPs urge voters to back the Tories instead.

Ian Austin and John Woodcock said they would be supporting the Conservatives as they did not believe Mr Corbyn was fit to be in Number 10.

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And on Friday, Dame Margaret Hodge - one of the most prominent Jewish figures in Labour - declined to endorse the Opposition leader as prime minister.

Writing in the Telegraph, Lord Blunkett said: “The behaviour of the hard-Left within the Labour Party - the anti-Semitism, the thuggery, the irrational views on security and international issues, and the lack of realisation that you have to embrace a big tent of people in order to win - certainly makes me despair.

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”But it also makes the likelihood of an all-out Labour majority in this general election extraordinarily slim. The political landscape right now is completely different to what the hard-Left would have you believe.

“We are in a 1983 situation here, not a 2017 one - with not only the Lib Dems and the Greens, but the Brexit Party, the Tories and the SNP all seriously vying for traditional Labour votes.”

Leave vs Remain: Images of divided Brexit Britain [Photos]

The 1983 election saw Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party secure a sizeable majority after votes for the opposition were split between Labour and the Liberal/SDP Alliance.

His intervention comes after another Labour candidate stepped down after allegedly making an anti-Semitic remark.

Gideon Bull, the prospective parliamentary candidate for Clacton, apologised after a Jewish councillor complained about a reference he made to “Shylock” - the Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson came under fire after he suggested his Brexit agreement was a “great deal” for Northern Ireland as it would retain access to the EU single market and maintain freedom of movement.

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