After a chastening week over the ongoing Russian saga, things have gone from bad to worse for Jeremy Corbyn. Simmering tensions within the Labour Party boiled over this week with a series of revelations over anti-Semitism within the party.
This has been an issue that has long dogged Labour and their leader. This week saw Corbyn ally Christine Shawcroft quit as the party’s Disputes Panel Chair (but remain on the NEC) after it emerged she opposed the suspension of a council candidate accused of Holocaust denial. Corbyn has also come under fire for appearing to tweet his support for an anti-Semitic mural in 2012 and was held personally responsible for the ‘hostile environment’ Jewish members of the Labour Party face, in a letter on behalf of a number of Jewish groups.
Corbyn admitted that there were ‘occasionally toxic pockets’ of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and has vowed to remove these elements. This sentiment is to be lauded, but with Shami Chakrabarti’s 2016 enquiry recommendations largely unimplemented, he needs to turn this rhetoric into action, and fast.
What this will do to Labour electorally in the short term is debateable. Labour are widely expected to run roughshod over the Conservatives in the local government elections in May, particularly in the London boroughs. While there may be a detrimental impact in areas of London with large Jewish communities such as Camden and Barnet, it is unlikely that this will halt the coming red wave, in particular across London.
However, while the party should remain bullish heading into May, it cannot let this profound issue remain unresolved indefinitely. Jeremy Corbyn has challenges to face externally such as the party’s response to Russia and Brexit, but it became clear this week that the Labour leader has to get his own house in order before he can start planning for a new home in Number 10.