Jacobson, Montefiore and Schama call on Labour to tackle antisemitism 'poison'

Jacobson, Montefiore and Schama call on Labour to tackle antisemitism 'poison'

Authors Howard Jacobson (pictured), Simon Sebag Montefiore and Simon Schama, together with Pottermore chair Neil Blair, have called on Labour to drain the antisemitism “that lies like a pool of poison in the party’s soul” and hit out at its handling of complaints.

In a letter to the Guardian, also signed by actor Tracy-Ann Oberman and Rabbi Julia Neuberger, the writers said they had watched the spread of antisemitism unfold in recent years “with bewilderment and disgust”.

They referred to an episode of “Panorama” broadcast last week which featured claims senior figures, including Jeremy Corbyn’s communications chief Seumus Milne, had interfered in antisemitism probes.

That show has been criticised by the party, including Corbyn himself, with claims producers had no political balance, featured officials with “axes to grind” and edited emails to change their meaning.

But the letter writers said: “The extent of Labour’s antisemitism, the degree to which it has been protected, sanctioned and propagated by the leadership faction, can brook no further denial; the labyrinthine attempts to deflect attention from the problem and discredit officials supposedly charged with identifying and rooting it out, are now laid bare.

“There is nowhere left for the Labour leadership to hide. It is clear this is not just about Jeremy Corbyn but the pernicious world view of a faction that has – temporarily, we hope – taken control of Labour.”

They claimed the party had responded by “rejecting the message and blaming the messenger”, with witnesses forced to sign gagging orders and whistle-blowers stigmatised.

They even likened the party to the BNP for being statutorily investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The letter concluded: "There are procedures that could take the heat out of this – a fully independent complaints body, for example, over which Corbyn and his inner circle exert no covert influence. Not with the aim of shuffling off blame, but in order, finally, that the party will honestly own up to what can no longer be filed away in a folder.

“After 'Panorama', damage limitation should not be the first priority for Labour. Draining the antisemitism that lies like a pool of poison in the party’s soul is. Now, nothing else will do.”

The Bookseller has contacted the Labour Party for a comment.