Labour MEP candidate ‘regrets’ suggesting antisemitism was being used to ‘smear’ Corbyn

Labour MEP candidate ‘regrets’ suggesting antisemitism was being used to ‘smear’ Corbyn

A Labour candidate for the upcoming European elections has said he regrets suggesting the “Israeli lobby” manufactured the party’s antisemitism row. 

Martin Mayer, a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and retired transport worker, has reportedly been chosen to stand as an MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber. 

The Sunday Telegraph reports Mr Mayer sent an email in 2016 titled: “How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour party’s antisemitism crisis”.

In the email he reportedly wrote: “Labour’s Blairite right wing have used the smear of antisemitism to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.”

Mr Mayer also included an email from Tony Greenstein, a Jewish anti-Zionist Labour activist, who was later expelled from the party over allegations of antisemitism. 

The paper reported that Mr Mayer was an active member of Labour Against the Witch Hunt, a group set up to protest against the expulsion of Labour Party members for alleged antisemitism. 

A report of a Sheffield branch of the group last May said Mr Mayer “shared fascinating stories from his time on the Labour Party NEC and the many ‘bogus’ claims of anti-Semitism he witnessed first hand”.

In a statement, Mr Mayer told The Sunday Telegraph he regretted the language he had used in the email and said antisemitism was a problem within the Labour Party. 

“When I was on the NEC I was shocked and appalled to see cases of antisemitism within our party,” he said. 

“I was also concerned about factionalism undermining the integrity of the disciplinary processes and the fight against antsemitism.

“I regret the language I used to express this and I would not use it today. Since then, I have learnt a lot more about this subject and I realise that words like ‘smear’ have the effect of downplaying and dismissing this very serious issue.

“I did not deny the problem exists within our party, and I believe anyone who denies it is contributing to the problem.

“As we’ve seen from the figures that the party recently released, this is a small minority in our party, but they must be kicked out.”

The allegations against Mr Mayer come as The Sunday Times reports that Britain’s equalities watchdog is expected to launch a full investigation into Labour’s alleged failure to stamp out antisemitism in the party. 

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According to the paper, insiders at the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) say the body of evidence against Labour members would allow it to access the party’s emails and other internal records. 

The only party to have been investigated in the EHRC’s 12-year history was the British National Party, forcing the party to shelve its whites-only membership policy.

Additional reporting by PA

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