Tony Blair warns of shift among Labour voters as anti-Semitism is ‘killing the party’

Speaking to British Jews at a Board of Deputies dinner in London last night, the former Labour prime minister was given a standing ovation as he predicted voters would think longer and harder than before about who to vote for on December 12. He said: “Let me be frank, there is going to be a complete battle in the Labour Party because what has happened over these past years – particularly over anti-Semitism – is absolutely killing the party. I think in this election there will be more people who look carefully in a non-tribal way – they will look carefully at the candidates in their constituency to a bigger degree than at any election I can remember.”

He went on to praise Labour MPs who have challenged Jeremy Corbyn over his handling of the anti-Semitism problem.

“There are really good Labour MPs that are standing in this election,” he said.

“People I know, people I’ve worked with.

“People who have stood up very strongly on antisemitism in the Labour Party and I want to see them supported.”

Mr Corbyn has been met with heavy criticism from people across the political spectrum over his failure to stamp out Jew-hatred in his group.

The reality of the problem was laid bare earlier this year in a damning Panorama documentary which included interviews with several former Labour employees who alleged the leadership was not taking steps to discipline everyone who had expressed anti-Semitic views.

One of the claims made in the BBC film entitled “Is Labour anti-Semitic?” was that Mr Corbyn’s closest allies interfered with investigations into anti-Semitism.

After it was broadcast, Labour issued a complaint to he Beeb over the conclusions drawn in the documentary.

The BBC’s executive complaints unit is expected to reject the complaint.

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Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl praised Mr Blair for his past leadership and recalled the days when any expression anti-Semitic views would have been swiftly slapped down by the party.

She said: “When Tony Blair was leader of the Labour Party – and, indeed prime minister – there was not the slightest question about any of the big parties being tolerant of anti-Semitism.

“Tony Blair has long been a true friend of our community and he continues to stand alongside us in our fight for justice.

“I know that he shares our horror that a creation of the last Labour government, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has launched a statutory investigation in to whether the current Labour Party itself is institutionally anti-Semitic.

“When the dust settles after the election, I hope that the party’s current – or future – leaders will learn from his example that things can – and indeed must – change.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel, Israeli ambassador to the UK Mark Regev and European Jewish Congress President Dr Moshe Kantor were among those in attendance.

Ms Patel said “at a time when many British Jews are feeling uncertain about the future” the work of the Board of Deputies was more important than ever.

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