Jeremy Corbyn said he will "strongly contest" his suspension from the U.K. Labour Party handed down Thursday following the former leader's response to a government watchdog report on anti-Semitism in the party finding that members had engaged in "unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination."
"I've made absolutely clear that those who deny there has been an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party are wrong," Corbyn said in a statement on Facebook declaring his intention to contest the suspension.
"It's also undeniable," added Corbyn, "that a false impression has been created of the number of members accused of antisemitism, as polling shows: that is what has been overstated, not the seriousness of the problem."
He further called on Labour "members to stay calm and focused—while this problem is resolved amicably, as I believe it will be—to defeat this awful government, which is further impoverishing the poorest in our society."
Driving the new development within Labour was Thursday's release of probe from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The EHRC investigation, according to BBC News,
identified serious failings in leadership and an inadequate process of handling anti-Semitism complaints. Its report said the party was responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act: political interference in anti-Semitism complaints, failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints and harassment.
In a statement, it said: "The equality body's analysis points to a culture within the party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent anti-Semitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it."
The commission served an unlawful act notice on the party, meaning it has to produce an action plan within six weeks, which is legally enforceable by the courts if not acted upon.
The inquiry was launched in May 2019 after "receiving a number of complaints about allegations of anti-Semitism in the party."
"Our investigation has highlighted multiple areas where its approach and leadership to tackling anti-Semitism was insufficient. This is inexcusable and appeared to be a result of a lack of willingness to tackle antisemitism rather than an inability to do so," Caroline Waters, interim chair of the commission, said in a statement.
Under Corbyn many Black, brown, LGBT+, poor, refugee, and disabled people felt Labour truly cared about them for the first time.— Nadine Batchelor-Hunt | נדין ציפורה (@nadinebh_) October 29, 2020
If you're hurting today and you're angry - I understand.
But I just ask you to understand the pain many Jewish people are feeling, too.
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Corbyn initially responded to the report saying, in part, that "Jewish members of our party and the wider community were right to expect us to deal with it, and I regret that it took longer to deliver that change than it should." However, he added, "the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media."
“My sincere hope is that relations with Jewish communities can be rebuilt and those fears overcome," he added. "While I do not accept all of its findings, I trust its recommendations will be swiftly implemented to help move on from this period."
According to IBT Times, "Those comments drew a swift and dramatic response from the party."
A party spokesperson said, "In light of his comments made today and his failure to retract them subsequently, the Labour Party has suspended Jeremy Corbyn pending investigation."
Current Labour Leader Keir Starmer said the "report's conclusions are clear. And stark. They leave no room for equivocation."
Len McCluskey, leader of Unite, Labour's biggest affiliate, said Corbyn's suspension was the wrong move.
"This was a day for our party to move forward as one to defeat the evil of anti-Semitism," he said. "However, the decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn has threatened that opportunity." MCluskey further warned that the suspension stands to "create chaos within the party and in doing so compromise Labour's chances of a general election victory."
" A split party will be doomed to defeat," said McCluskey.
The suspension also drew words of support for Corbyn in the U.K and beyond:
I urge all party members to stay calm as that is the best way to support Jeremy and each other. Let’s all call upon the leadership to lift this suspension.— John McDonnell MP (@johnmcdonnellMP) October 29, 2020
UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has spent his life fighting racism and defending the rights of the oppressed, including Palestinians. He has always opposed anti-Semitism, but anti-Semitism is being weaponized to suspend him from the party. Sad. https://t.co/XumzgVJg9X— Medea Benjamin (@medeabenjamin) October 29, 2020