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Labour MPs reject Chuka Umunna's 'institutionally racist' jibe

STREATHAM MP Chuka Umunna was slammed as a mischief-making "Establishment lackey" yesterday after claiming the Labour Party was "institutionally racist."

Mr Umunna made the accusation on Sophy Ridge on Sunday, saying he was referring to the party's supposed anti-semitism problem.

His outburst followed his attempt to blame Jeremy Corbyn for no-confidence votes passed against MPs including Joan Ryan and Frank Field, demanding the Labour leader "call off the dogs."

But MPs and party officials immediately hit back at his new claim. 

"Chuka Umunna is wrong on this just as he is wrong to denigrate Labour members who have volunteered the time to get him and all of us elected as 'dogs'," shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon told the Morning Star.

"Labour is an anti-racist, socialist party led by an anti-racist socialist leader.

"As I said about Tony Blair, Chuka Umunna should spend more time attacking the Tories, not Labour."

Shadow equalities minister Dawn Butler said she had spent her whole life fighting racism, declaring: "Labour is NOT institutionally racist."

Party general secretary Jennie Formby said Mr Umunna's comments showed "no understanding of either the work or the history of our party."

And Derby North MP Chris Williamson called the charge "absurd and grossly offensive.

"The Labour Party has a proud tradition of fighting racism. The people making these allegations are swimming in the gutter," he told the Star.

"At a time when the far right is on the rise in Britain and across Europe, it is unforgivable that Establishment lackeys in Parliament and the media are weaponising false accusations of racism to undermine and demonise Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party."

Jewish Socialists’ Group activist David Rosenberg said he would take accusations such as Mr Umunna’s seriously “from someone who has been at the heart of the Labour Party and the left’s anti-racist work, but we’ve never seen him there. The fight against racism is the fight for equality and respect.

“Someone who thinks it is OK to call the ordinary Labour Party members who are pressing for democracy and accountability ‘dogs’ shows little respect for anyone.”

Mr Umunna has been an unrelenting opponent of Mr Corbyn and has joined figures from the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives in pushing for a second referendum on EU membership in defiance of party policy.

His “dogs” remark is not the first time he has attracted criticism for snobbish put-downs.

He was forced to apologise in 2013 after the Daily Mail uncovered comments he had made on elite social media network ASmallWorld, dubbed "MySpace for Millionaires," asking for advice on decent nightclubs as "most of the West End haunts seem to be full of trash and C-list wannabes."

And Norwich South MP Clive Lewis has questioned the hysteria over MPs claiming to be “targeted” by members, pointing out on the BBC: “Members did not bang down the doors of MPs and drag them out. They held a meeting, put up their hands and voted.”

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