David Lammy apologized for appointing Jeremy Corbyn as head of the Labor Party in 2015 and said he was “stunned” that some people with deeply anti-Semitic views remain in the Labor Party.
Speaking at this year’s Limmud Festival, a Jewish event, the shadow foreign minister said he “never believed” Corbyn would become a leader and that his appointment was “a mistake”.
“I regret naming Jeremy Corbyn and if I had known what I’m doing now I never would have named him,” Lammy told an online audience of around 300, in comments reported for the first time in Jewish News.
“I never believed he would become a leader. It was a mistake and I am sorry.
Lammy went on to say that he was “totally behind” Keir Starmer and said of his leadership: “I don’t think the global culture is more toxic … but until the party is really welcome for everyone, we are staying on the trip. “
His comments came after a recent survey of members of the Jewish labor movement revealed strong support for Starmer’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism since he became a leader last year.
About 70% of the 363 survey respondents said Labor was a safe space for the Jewish people under Starmer’s leadership, compared with just 4% who felt the same under Corbyn.
But Lammy said Labor was always “on the journey” when it came to improving relations with British Jewish groups and that some people with anti-Semitic views remained in the party.
“I have met some of these people and I am frankly amazed that some are still in the party,” said the Tottenham MP.
“But as a lawyer, I understand that people appeal and go to court. There is a process, which can seem slow and torturous at times, but it needs to be undertaken. “
Describing himself as a follower of the ‘Rainbow Coalition Approach to Politics’, he said he was proud of the Jewish community which stood ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in their fight against apartheid.
“The Jewish community understood the fascism that was at the heart of apartheid and the pernicious evil of discrimination. The tradition I come from is that Jewish friends recognize and are active alongside historically discriminated groups.
“It means black communities like mine understand the prejudices that exist against Jewish communities. “