Hodge claims vindication over Corbyn anti-Semitism row

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Dame Margaret Hodge has said she has been proved right after calling Jeremy Corbyn an “anti-Semitic racist” – but insisted she did not use the “F-word”.

The former Labour minister was catapulted to the centre of the party’s anti-Semitism row when she confronted her leader in Parliament over the party’s failure to adopt the internationally-agreed definition in July.

She was reported to have called him a “f***ing anti-Semite and a racist” in a row that sparked an investigation into her conduct.

She told the Jewish Labour Movement conference on Sunday: “I went up to him and the last thing I said to myself was, ‘don’t swear Margaret’.

“Then I just did say to him I thought the decision he had taken meant he had shown himself to be an anti-Semite and a racist…. You’re  giving a message the Labour Party has become a hostile environment for Jews.

“What is deeply worrying about it is he couldn’t engage. He wouldn’t engage, he just said, ‘I’m sorry you feel like that and walked off’.”

Dame Margaret said she believed her opinion has been confirmed by reports in the media over the following months, in particular when a video emerged of Mr Corbyn’s commenting Zionists “don’t understand English irony” at a conference in 2013.

“I called him an anti-Semitic racist in July and everything that’s come out since then has confirmed my belief that I’m right,” she said.

Dame Margaret said had the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition been adopted three months ago, it might have started to heal divisions within the party.

But she changing the policy at a ruling National Executive Committee meeting this week might not be enough.

“Corbyn has got a problem to deal with and the problem is he is the problem,” she said.

“As long as we are seen as an anti-Semitic and racist party, ordinary people will not tolerate a part that is seeped in anti-Semitism.”

Dame Margaret also clarified comments in which she likened the party disciplinary investigation into her conduct to the persecution faced by Jews in Nazi Germany.

“Obviously none of us here would in any was think that what is happening to us in the Labour Party is analogous to the Holocaust,” she said.

“But the Holocaust didn’t happen in a vacuum. We had a build up to the Holocaust.”

She said she had tried to put herself into the mindset of those facing persecution in the early 20th century.

“If you stand aside and don’t let yourself be conjured at times when we see the seeds sewn of what could become another human outrage… you will be guilty in history,” she said.

“I felt we were in that moment in history – at the beginning – and we should not stand aside.”

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