A senior Jewish Labour MP has defended her decision to confront Jeremy Corbyn over the party’s response to anti-Semitism.
Dame Margaret Hodge, who faces action from the party over the incident in Parliament on Tuesday night, said the Labour leader was “now perceived by many as an anti-Semite”.
She claimed Labour had come to be seen as “racist” by millions of voters, and accused the party’s leadership of “arrogance” in failing to address the problem.
Dame Margaret, who lost family members in the Holocaust, challenged Mr Corbyn behind the Speaker’s chair in the Commons following the adoption by Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee of a new code of conduct on anti-Semitism – which has been widely denounced by Jewish groups.
Mr Corbyn’s spokesman branded the Barking MP’s remarks “clearly unacceptable”.
Giving her version of Tuesday night’s events, Dame Margaret wrote in the Guardian: “I confronted Jeremy Corbyn in Parliament and told him to his face what I and many others are feeling.”
“Under his leadership the Labour party is perceived by most Jews, thousands of party members and millions of members of the public as an anti-Semitic, and therefore racist, party.”
“As our leader, he is now perceived by many as an anti-Semite.”
She added: “I chose to confront Jeremy directly and personally to express my anger and outrage. I stand by my action as well as my words.”
Dame Margaret condemned the party’s refusal to listen to critics in the Jewish community about the response to anti-Semitism.
“The arrogance displayed by the Labour leadership takes one’s breath away,” she said.
Dame Margaret added: “Under Jeremy’s leadership, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict has been allowed to infect the party’s approach to growing anti-Semitism.”
“It appears to have become a legitimate price that the leadership is willing to pay for pursuing the longstanding cause of Palestinians in the Middle East.”
“Because of that, anti-Semitism has become a real problem in the Labour Party.”
Before Dame Margaret’s Guardian article was published, Mr Corbyn’s spokesman indicated the party was already considering unspecified disciplinary action.
He said that it would be taken under Parliamentary Labour Party procedures requiring MPs to behave in a “respectful” way towards colleagues and not to “bring the party into disrepute”.
He said that Mr Corbyn himself would not be a complainant in any case brought against the veteran MP and former minister.
“Under the terms of PLP rules, behaviour has to be respectful between colleagues and not bring the party into disrepute,” said the spokesman.
“The behaviour was clearly unacceptable between colleagues.” Jeremy’s door is always open to discussions with members of the PLP. Action will be taken.”