Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, gives a speech at the EEF National Manufacturing conference, in London, Britain, February 19, 2019.
(photo credit: HANNAH MCKAY/ REUTERS)
UKUK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has denied that there is any “widespread bullying” within his party.
He made the comments to Sky News on Friday night, hot on the heels of MP Ian Austin joining the ranks of those who quit the party. He was the ninth MP to leave Labour in the last week because of antisemitism and racism plaguing the party.
On Friday, Austin told several British newspapers that he was “ashamed” of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and the Labour Party, adding that he was “unfit to deal” with the party’s antisemitism.
Speaking to The Guardian
, Austin said that he thinks “Jeremy Corbyn and the people around him have turned what was a mainstream party into something really different. They’ve created a culture of extremism, intolerance and bullying.”
“It’s just unbelievable that people – decent people who have dedicated their lives to mainstream politics – have been driven out by... extremism and antisemitism,” he added.
Austin mentioned that he had grown up listening to his father, who was “a refugee from the Holocaust, teach me about the evils of hatred and prejudice.”
“That lead to me as a teenager 35 years ago... to join the Labour Party to fight racism,” he said. “I would never have believed that I would be leaving the Labour Party today because of racism as well.”
However, during the interview, Corbyn claimed that “there is no place for harshness, bullying or anything else” in his party.
“I don’t believe that it exists on a wide scale,” Corbyn told Sky News. “Where there is bad behavior, we deal with it. Where there is a problem, we deal with it.”
He also claimed that the Labour Party “does not accept antisemitism in any form,” despite the fact that all nine MPs said they had left the party due to antisemitism and racism.
Upon Austin’s resignation, Corbyn said that he was sorry about it, adding that, “I’m very sorry he uses language like that.” He said that such language was “unhelpful.”
Party deputy, Tom Watson told reporters that “unless we change, we may see more days like this,” claiming that a “virulent form of identity politics has seized the Labour Party.”
Corbyn later responded to the comments, saying that he “will be speaking to Tom Watson in the very near future to talk to him about that,” he said. “He has made a comment. It is his comment, not mine. Of course I disagree with him.”
Austin said that he did not plan to join his eight former colleagues, who resigned last week and are joining the new Independent Group.
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