AN “UNPRECEDENTED” number of MPs from all the main political parties are calling for Baroness Tonge to apologise after her claims that Labour lost the general election due to Israeli attacks on Jeremy Corbyn.
A former Liberal Democrat MP, Lady Tonge posted her claims on social media after the Tories major win last week: “The Chief Rabbi must be dancing in the street. The pro-Israel lobby won our General Election by lying about Jeremy Corbyn.”
But the remarks have drawn widespread criticism from former cabinet ministers, senior lawyers and leaders of industry and commerce, who wrote a letter published in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph.
Writing in the letter 88 peers condemned the Baroness’ claim: “We the undersigned believe that members of the House of Lords are required to conform to the highest standards of Public Life.
“The use of language by Baroness Tonge in a published statement that the General Election outcome was a result of ‘the pro-Israeli lobby’ [and]‘lying about Jeremy Corbyn’ falls well short of that high standard.”
They added: “Her language is both shameful and in clear contravention of the United Kingdom’s adoption of IHRA’s definition of Antisemitism.
“Baroness Tonge has brought Parliament into disrepute and we demand that she withdraws her remarks and issues a full and unqualified apology without delay.”
A former Liberal Democrat MP from 1997 to 2005, Baroness Tonge was suspended form the party in 2016 after hosting an event where an audience member suggested that Jewish people were responsible for the Holocaust.
One of the most high profile political figures to sign the letter was Lord Pickles the former Tory minister who said: “For too long Baroness Tonge has used her position in Parliament to make Jewish people feel uncomfortable.
“Hiding behind the thin tissue of the ‘pro Israeli lobby’ is dog whistle politics at its worse. Suggesting that people’s legitimate worries and concerns are lies, damages the reputation of Parliament.
“The unprecedented number of House of Lords members who have signed a letter demanding an apology is a clear sign that her fellow peers have had enough of her irresponsible antics.”
Baroness Tonge did however apologise for her comments explaining that her comments were intended to be “a light hearted remark, not intended to offend”.
She said: “The reports I read during the election campaign were that people were being put off voting for the Labour Party in large numbers because of Jeremy Corbyn, who has been labelled as anti-Semitic by many opponents including the Chief Rabbi.
“I have known Jeremy Corbyn for many years and know without doubt that he is not anti-Semitic, far from it.
“It was extraordinary for the Chief Rabbi, who only represents about half of synagogue attending Jews in this country, to endorse such political statements in the middle of an election campaign and he must have been very pleased with the result.
“I am sorry therefore if some people are offended by the thought of the Chief Rabbi dancing in the street. It was a light hearted remark , not intended to offend.”
Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, made an unprecedented intervention into the general election when he said Mr Corbyn was “unfit for high office”, as he accused him of allowing the “poison” of anti-Semitism to “take root in the Labour Party”.
This comes as it has emerged that the celebratory event JezzFest is making a return in February, despite the last rally flopping due to low crowds, and the Labour leader and his party taking a battering in the general election.
A new JezzFest Twitter account has been opened for the planned event, with a GoFundMe page launched by Nathan Harmer in a desperate bid to raise money for it.
The page has more than 2,000 followers but at the time of writing, just £50 had been donated from a total of four people less than 24 hours after the GoFundMe page was opened.
A tweet on the account says: “Thank you for everyone’s support for this event.
“We’re crowd funding for the event and every penny will help lots.
“Any surplus will be donated to food banks and to homeless charities.
“#JezzFest is going to be epic!”
Twitter user @JakeLex1989, who’s Twitter bio says “#Socialism will prevail, still hoping for a #LabourGov in the future” broke the news of the planned JezzFest reboot.