Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn posted a statement on his Facebook page on Tuesday that came quite close to apologizing for the anti-Semitism that infected his party under his watch.
According to the Daily Mail, Corbyn “FINALLY makes a groveling apology,” but the truth is probably better assessed by a reading of what he himself wrote:
Last month, I was suspended from the Labour Party, after 54 years’ membership and four and a half years as party leader.
On the day I was suspended I gave a broadcast interview to clarify what I had said in response to the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) report, and I also made a statement to the party to clear up any confusion about what I had meant, as follows:
“The publication of the EHRC report should have been a moment for the Labour Party to come together in a determination to address the shortcomings of the past and work as one to root out anti-Semitism in our own ranks and wider society. We must never tolerate anti-Semitism or belittle concerns about it. And that was not my intention in anything I said this week. I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community and would wish to do nothing that would exacerbate or prolong it. To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated.’ The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to anti-Semitism. I fully support Keir Starmer’s decision to accept all the EHRC recommendations in full and, in accordance with my own lifelong convictions, will do what I can to help the Party move on, united against anti-Semitism which has been responsible for so many of history’s greatest crimes against humanity.”
I’m grateful to the many thousands of Labour party members, trade unionists, and supporters in Britain and around the world, who have offered their solidarity.
I hope this matter is resolved as quickly as possible, so that the party can work together to root out anti-Semitism and unite to oppose and defeat this deeply damaging Conservative government.
In October, when the EHRC report was first published, Corbyn rejected its conclusions, countering that the issue had been “dramatically overstated for political reasons” by his enemies and the media.
He also claimed in a Facebook post that he had attempted to deal with the problem himself, but had been stymied by party officials, and therefore that “it took longer to deliver that change than it should.”
The EHRC report did not blame Corbyn directly, but its lead investigator, Alasdair Henderson, said that as Labour party leader, Corbyn should nonetheless take responsibility.
“As the leader of the party at the time, and given the extent of the failings we found in the political interference within the leader of the opposition’s office, Jeremy Corbyn is ultimately accountable and responsible for what happened at that time,” Henderson stated.