Labour’s Rochdale by-election row part of antisemitism ‘tornado’ in UK, government tsar warns

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Britain is facing a “tornado” of anti-Jewish racism working its way through the country, the government’s antisemitism tsar has warned.

John Mann, the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, has called on political leaders from all parties to “get their collective acts together to sort this out”.

The ex-Labour MP’s dramatic intervention comes amid the latest antisemitism scandal engulfing Labour, after Sir Keir Starmer dropped the party’s Rochdale by-election candidate over comments he made about Israel.

Lord Mann told LBC that it was “hardly a surprise” Labour had been forced to pull its support for Azhar Ali, who was recorded saying Israel had allowed the October 7 Hamas attack to take place in order to invade Gaza.

And, asked whether the Labour Party is still struggling with antisemitism, Lord Mann said: “There is antisemitism manifesting all over the country.

Lord Mann is the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism

(PA)

“There is clearly some in the Labour Party, but we should not ignore what is happening in the universities – Birmingham University, Leeds University.”

Birmingham students reportedly chanted “death to Zionists” during a protest on the university’s campus, leading Jewish students fearing for their safety.

Meanwhile a Jewish chaplain at Leeds University was forced into hiding after being targeted with death threats and anti-Semitic protests, according to reports.

Lord Mann, who has been the adviser on antisemitism since 2019, said he has seen “the worst things in many years” in terms of “the brutality of antisemitism going on”.

Labour candidate Azhar Ali, who has sparked controversy while standing as a candidate in the Rochdale byelection

(Getty Images)

“I am dealing with this literally every waking hour, firefighting, assisting Jewish people who have been targeted in industry, culture, sports… all over this is happening.

“We have a tornado of antisemitism working through the country and the political leaders need to get their collective acts together to sort this out.”

The Metropolitan Police has reported a “massive increase” in antisemitic hate crimes since Israel invaded Gaza, in response to the October 7 Hamas terror attacks.

In the period between 30 September and 13 October, the force recorded 105 incidents of antisemitism and 75 offences – up from just 14 incidents and 12 offences during the same period in 2022.

And Sir Keir has also warned of a rise in anti-Jewish racism as he vowed never to let antisemitism take hold in the Labour Party again.

The Labour leader said antisemitism had taken “a new shape” in the wake of Hamas’s October 7 terror attacks on Israel, with those who “hate Jews” hiding behind pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Addressing the Jewish Labour Movement’s (JLM) conference last month, Sir Keir said: “Let me assure you, we will never let antisemitism sneak back into the Labour Party under cover.

“I see no greater cause in my leadership than this. This is my role.”

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