Jeremy Corbyn appears to have ignored Parliamentary motions on antisemitism that could have proved politically inconvenient for him, despite signing other similar motions.
Backers of the Labour leader claim his support for a number of motions condemning antisemitism disprove allegations that he has been too relaxed about Labour’s present antisemitism crisis.
Corbyn is exceptional amongst MPs for having signed 19,625 such Early Day Motions since 1989, condemning everything from MI5’s alleged use of pigeons to carry bombs to celebrations of England’s success in Euro ’96. Unusually for a party leader, he has continued to sign motions since his election in 2015.
But an examination of antisemitism motions that Corbyn failed to sign suggests he ignored those that could have proved politically inconvenient for him, echoing more recent criticisms that he has been reluctant to tackle Labour antisemitism at the expense of losing support on the far-left.
One such motion tabled in November 2015 notes rising concern over antisemitism and declares “antisemitism has no place in campaigns of solidarity in Palestinians”. Despite also making it clear that campaigners have a “democratic right to criticise the governments and policies of any and all states”, Corbyn failed to sign the motion. The motion was signed by Naz Shah, who was suspended by the party in 2016 over antisemitic comments she made on Facebook before apologising for bringing the party into disrepute.
Similarly, he failed to sign EDM 106 condemning “the recent surge of antisemitism in Russia involving a series of attacks on Rabbis and synagogues”, EDM 1435 on “Middle East satellite TV antisemitism” and EDM 2320 on antisemitism in the Occupy movement. Corbyn has regularly appeared on Russian and Iranian state television, and signed EDM 2253 in support of the Occupy movement in London.
Corbyn’s apparent reluctance to discipline Ken Livingstone over his 2016 comment that Hitler “was supporting Zionism” is foreshadowed by his failure to sign EDM 744, condemning the former London Mayor’s comparison of a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard in 2005.
The omissions suggest that Jeremy Corbyn’s record on fighting antisemitism is not as clear cut as his supporters present it to be.