Mike Freer is MP for Finchley and Golders Green.
I have been as shocked as anyone during the last few months reading the seemingly daily reports of anti-Semitic behaviour emanating from the Labour Party. Labour’s mayoral candidate, Sadiq Khan, has been going out of his way to distance himself from these shocking reports of virulent anti-Semitism within his party. Khan has even gone so far as to say he is “embarrassed and sorrowful about the state of the (Labour) party.” Anti-Semitism is an issue above party politics, and I welcome the fact that he is speaking out.
However, warm words are all well and good, but they have to be backed up with action. And it’s here that Khan’s actions don’t meet his rhetoric. The incidents of anti-Semitism reported in the press in recent weeks all seem to have one common theme: Momentum. The Momentum group is a set of hard-left activists dedicated to supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party. Momentum has a particularly strong presence in London, and it was only with the group’s support that Khan beat Tessa Jowell for the Labour Mayoral nomination – a favour returned after Khan nominated Jeremy Corbyn for Labour leader.
And it’s this Momentum group that crops up time and time again. According to press reports, the two people investigated for intimidating Jewish students at the Oxford University Labour party were Momentum activists; Louise Ellman, the Jewish Labour MP, faced an orchestrated campaign against her because of her faith, allegedly led by activists from Momentum; Bob Campbell was a Momentum activist suspended from the Labour Party for suggesting that Mossad runs Isis and was behind the Brussels bombings; Vicki Kirby, a Labour parliamentary candidate who was suspended for urging ISIS to attack Israel, attended Momentum events.
Momentum’s national leaders have also reportedly condemned Remembrance Sunday, called for the abolition of the monarchy, and for MI5 to be disbanded.
Moderate Labour MPs in London such as Stella Creasy have hit out against Momentum, yet Sadiq Khan continues to accept campaign support from them. Last month, Momentum held a two-day “Khanpaigning” weekend across London. And just a few weeks ago Momentum held a telephone canvassing session for Sadiq in Khan’s London HQ.
Khan himself has been on a journey. As a lawyer, he represented the anti-Semitic hate preacher Louis Farrakhan, and as a minister he lobbied the Labour Government for sanctions against Israel. I’m glad to see he’s now changed his mind, but now we need to see concrete action.
If we are to take his words on anti-Semitism seriously then he needs to unambiguously break all his links with Momentum. While he continues to accept direct support from them, then I’m afraid all the warm platitudes are simply empty words.