Speaker Pelosi Shames Jeremy Corbyn on anti-Semitism
It is rare for a senior US politician to speak out against the Leader of Britain's Opposition. In fact, it is unprecedented but that was before Jeremy Corbyn and his laissez-faire attitude to anti-Semitism.
Following on from her whirlwind trip to London on Monday, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi sat down for an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour yesterday.
Speaker Pelosi was interviewed in Dublin, Ireland where she is due to address Dáil Éireann, the principle chamber of the Irish legislature, to celebrate the passing of 100 years since the formation of the first Dáil.
As Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, she is the third highest ranking public official in the United States. She is also the nation’s most powerful Democrat and until they nominate a Presidential candidate the de facto leader of the Democratic Party.
In 2007, she was sworn in as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the first time. That the first woman Speaker in American history was Nancy Pelosi is hardly surprising once you discover that she was practically born into politics.
Her father Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. had served as Congressman for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District and Mayor of Baltimore. He was also a man of great moral courage, breaking with the immensely popular President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whilst a Democratic Congressman, to support the Bergson Group.
The Bergson Group sought to raise awareness of the Holocaust and was deeply critical of the lack of action from the administration to save the Jews of Europe, condemning thousands to death. The Roosevelt administration’s policy on Jewish refugees was so inhumane that in 1939, the U.S. government turned away a ship carrying over 900 refuges, many of them Jewish, escaping from Nazi Germany.
With that proud history it is no surprise that Speaker Pelosi responded forcefully to the suggestion that the Democratic Party was beginning to have a problem with anti-Semitism, following some offensive and unwise comments by freshman Congresswoman IIhan Omar
Speaker Pelosi emphasised that not only did the Democratic Party not have an anti-Semitism problem, she was committed to fighting anti-Semitism wherever it occurs.
It was then that she revelled just how direct she had been with Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn over his handling, or lack of handling, the problem of anti-Semitism within his Party saying:
“When we met the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, we said we have concerns about how the Labour Party is perceived, in terms of anti-Semitism.”
Not mentioned in the interview was that the Speaker, who will have had many demands on her time during her London visit, made a point of having a meeting with three backbench MPs. What made those backbench MPs significant was that they were three former Labour MPs who left the Party in February due to its failure to tackle the growing anti-Semitism from within. Mike Gapes MP and Chris Leslie MP became founding members of ChangeUK, whilst Ian Austin MP now sits as an independent MP.
That the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives would be so public in voicing her concerns over the Labour Party’s attitude towards anti-Semitism shows just how great the damage Jeremy Corbyn has been. The Speaker of the House would not seek to shame a potential Prime Minster like that but then that is not how Mr. Corbyn is seen internationally.
What is obvious is that concern over Mr. Corbyn’s attitude towards anti-Semitism is great amongst our closest ally and something they regard as a grave threat. We should all be grateful to Speaker Pelosi for disregarding political niceties and instead making it abundantly clear to Mr. Corbyn and his allies that the whole world is now watching their behaviour.
Patrick Sullivan is the Political Editor of The Commentator @PatJSullivan
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