Britain's opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
(photo credit: REUTERS/TOBY MELVILLE)
The UK Labour Party has acted with particular alacrity in sending Jewish MP Margaret Hodge a notice that she is being investigated for breaching the party’s code of conduct, after she told Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to his face he was an “antisemitic racist.”
Hodge made her comments in the House of Commons following the adoption by the Labour Party of new, controversial guidelines on antisemitism, which have been heavily criticized by the Jewish community for omitting key definitions of antisemitism that are included by internationally accepted guidelines.
Just 12 hours after Hodge’s rebuke to Corbyn, Labour General-Secretary Jennie Formby sent Hodges a letter saying she was being investigated for breaching Labour rules for engaging in behavior that could be considered “grossly detrimental to the party.”
The letter stated the investigation did not “confer an assumption of guilt” but warned that “any future behavior of a similar nature to the allegation above could result in further disciplinary action” including administrative suspension while an investigation is conducted.
Hodge’s lawyers filed a response to the warning on Monday, noting that a spokesman for Corbyn told the media that Hodge’s actions were “unacceptable” and therefore “action will be taken.”
The MP’s lawyers pointed out that Formby’s letter implying no assumption of guilt was contravened by Corbyn’s spokesman’s promise to “take action.”
The legal letter also noted that it was “perverse” that the rule of undertaking actions that would be “grossly detrimental to the part” was being invoked against Hodge for voicing her concerns that the party was not dealing sufficiently with the numerous incidents of antisemitism that have plagued it in recent years.
“It is our client’s opinion that failing to deal properly with antisemitism is detrimental to the party – and not conduct which points out this failure,” they wrote to Formby.
Speaking to the BBC
Radio 4’s Today program on Monday, Hodge said she stood by her allegation that Corbyn was an antisemite.
“It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. And he hasn’t adopted the full definition of antisemitism, which everyone else has, every other institution has,” she said.
“Within 12 hours of my talking to Jeremy Corbyn face to face I received a disciplinary letter. Think how long it has taken for the Labour Party to respond to any allegations of antisemitism,” she said.
The letter sent by Hodge’s lawyers to Formby also detailed the antisemitic abuse she had been subjected to since the incident occurred on Facebook groups supportive of Corbyn, including comments that she was “a Zionist bitch,” “a Zionist remedial cancer,” and “under orders of her paymasters in Israel,” among others.
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