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Jess Phillips repeats calls for action on Labour anti-Semitism crisis 'after member abused at party meeting'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 14/01/2020 Jacob Jarvis
Jess Phillips standing in front of a store © Provided by Evening Standard

Jess Phillips has called for action against allegations of anti-Jewish racism in the Labour party after a member's claim he was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse at a local meeting.

Alex Holmes, vice-chairman of the party's Ilford South branch in east London, tweeted about a meeting he described as the worst he had ever attended.

He said he and another member were called "agents of a foreign power", after speaking against a motion attacking the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

"The proposers used multiple anti-Semitic tropes to make their point that the Board of Deputies is a 'Tory organisation' 'illegally interfering in the Labour leadership contest," Mr Holmes tweeted of the meeting.

"Racists of any kind have no place anywhere near the Labour party, nor any other mainstream political party."

The Board of Deputies of British Jews has published "10 pledges" it said would end Labour's problems with anti-Semitism, which were signed by leadership candidates including Rebecca Long-Bailey and Sir Keir Starmer.

Human rights barrister Adam Wagner shared Mr Holmes' posts, calling them "an example of how difficult it will be for any new leader to dislodge the antisemitic culture from Labour".

Leadership contestant Ms Phillips responded and said: "Today I will seek to speak to Alex about what happened.

"Adam is right, this will not be easily solved but we must change culture that accepts without shame and embarrassment calling Jewish orgs, Jewish people and their allies 'agents of a foreign power'. It's racism."

Ms Phillips told the Standard last week that Labour had "lost the right" to tackle its anti-Semitism issues itself and should allow an independent process to take over.

She said the party needs a "clean slate" and that she would have a zero tolerance approach to such offences.

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Following Mr Holmes' tweets, the Board of Deputies responded: "We are profoundly saddened to see yet another example of the hatred which has infested parts of Labour.

"Our sympathies are with those decent, upstanding members of the party who are determined to fight such insidious bigotry."

The Labour Party has not yet commented on the situation.

Ms Phillips is one of five candidates through to the second round of the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.

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