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Guardian columnist Owen Jones has criticised the “lack of emotional intelligence” shown towards Labour’s anti-Semitism scandal by people like Jeremy Corbyn. This comes after the former leader had been suspended from the party for comments that he made in the wake of the EHRC’s report into anti-Semitism in the party. Mr Corbyn has since issued a clarification that concerns about anti-Semitism were “neither ‘exaggerated’ or ‘overstated'”.
Mr Jones told BBC Politics Live: “He expressed his regret, and I think that’s an important clarification.
“What’s so tragic about this whole saga is the focus should have been on the Labour Party and the Left uniting around the implementation of the EHRC recommendations.
“It should have been about us uniting around accepting the hurt and distress that’s been caused to Jewish people, not just in the party but across the country, by the existence of anti-Semitism, so we can all move on.
“All the way through this there’s been this problem of a lack of emotional intelligence.”
The columnist continued: “If I went around punching people and then people on the Right said, ‘this shows how violent the Left is’, just because they’re extrapolating in a way that I might find problematic, I’ve still caused hurt and distress to people which is real and has to be acknowledged.
“I think that’s the problem – the hurt and distress that many Jews felt is real, and has to be acknowledged.
“If it ends up that the people on the Left become the guys getting defensive over anti-Semitism on TV, there’s no future for the Left in this country.
“What we need to be talking about is public ownership, taxing the rich, scrapping tuition fees.”
In response to the EHRC report in October, Mr Corbyn wrote: “One anti-Semite is one too many, but 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.”
This statement resulted in him having the Labour whip removed last month.
Making an appeal to the party, the MP has since said: “To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’.”
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He added: “The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to anti-Semitism.”
Labour’s ruling national executive, the NEC, is now deciding what should happen to Mr Corbyn in the midst of all this.
A panel is meeting to discuss his case, looking at recommendations from party officials of how to go forward.
Despite expressing his regret, Mr Corbyn has not apologised for what he said in the wake of the report.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews has dubbed his clarification as a “pathetic non-apology”.
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