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Labour-led Ipswich council says party "did not do enough" about anti-semitism

PUBLISHED: 19:01 12 January 2020

Jeremy Corbyn and senior Labour leaders have been criticised for not doing enough to tackle anti-semitism. Picture: NEIL HANNA/PA WIRE

Jeremy Corbyn and senior Labour leaders have been criticised for not doing enough to tackle anti-semitism. Picture: NEIL HANNA/PA WIRE

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Ipswich's Labour-run council has pledged to support victims of anti-semitism - and admitted the party nationally has not done enough on the issue.

Councillor Alasdair Ross, portfolio holder for community protection, said not everyone in Ipswich has been free of anti-semitism. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCILCouncillor Alasdair Ross, portfolio holder for community protection, said not everyone in Ipswich has been free of anti-semitism. Picture: IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL

A motion put forward by Labour councillor Alasdair Ross at Wednesday's full council meeting was backed unanimously, in which the authority pledged to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition.

During his speech, Mr Ross, portfolio holder for community protection, said the authority needed to make a stand against bullying and racism.

He said: "As Ipswich born and bred, I have always seen my town as welcoming to all those who have decided to make Ipswich their home however I am sure there are those who have not always had a positive experience.

"It is important that as local political leaders we lead by example."

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He added: "If this proposal can in any way help to make people of all races, colour or faith feel that Ipswich is their home, and that they feel safe in this town, then we should not only support this proposal with all our hearts but we must ensure that we as councillors and that the borough council act in a way that anti-semitism in any form has no place in this great town."

According to Mr Ross, government data suggested 18% of religiously motivated attacks were on Jewish people, and continued to increase.

He also pointed to his experience in Bosnia while serving in the armed forces where he witnessed ethnic cleansing activities.

Accusations of deep-rooted anti-semitism within the party have plagued Labour's senior leaders, with widespread fears that not enough has been done to tackle the problem.

Mr Ross said: "My own party has been accused of harbouring anti-semitism, the Labour party did not do enough at the time but it is getting its house in order now.

"But as we have seen only just recently in the last election, all major parties have an issue with racist behaviour, with all four of the main political groups nationally having to suspend, investigate or even expel candidates for acts of anti-semitism, Islamophobia, other types of racism or because the candidate has attacked people because of their sexual preference.

"None of the leaders of our national parties are excused for their lack of leadership at a time when it was needed by many, so that is why it even more important that at a local level, we take the lead, we are the politicians that our residents interact with the most, we are the ones they speak to and meet every day."

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