Labour’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby is facing a backlash after describing allegations of anti-Semitism at Unite, her previous employer, as a right wing smear.
The Huffington Post published a private exchange between Unite’s former political director and a Unite member who raised concerns about anti-Semitism on Thursday.
In the messages the pair exchanged on social media, Formby said: “There does seem to be a deliberate attempt recently to sling accusations (of anti-Semitism) at Unite that the right have been leveling at the left in the Labour Party”.
She denied there was anti-Semitism in Unite. Her former boss Len McCluskey has twice given interviews saying there is no anti-Semitism in the Labour party and accused Labour MPs – including Ian Austin, whose father escaped the holocaust – of using the issue as a pretext to attack Jeremy Corbyn.
In the online exchange Formby also defended a member who compared Israel to Hitler, saying: “They had been relatively young and ignorant politically and were trying to show solidarity with Palestine”.
Formby said when she became general secretary that dealing with anti-Semitism in the Labour party was her number one priority.
Leading figures on the left, including Jon Lansman have made it clear that characterising clams of anti-Semitism as politically motivated is not an adequate response to a problem that Jeremy Corbyn has now vowed to do more to tackle.