A Labour minister has provoked outrage after she laughed when questioned about fresh anti-Semitism claims against Jeremy Corbyn.
Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow Business Secretary, was questioned over Mr Corbyn’s foreword to a century-old book which argued that banks and newspapers were controlled by Jews.
Her reaction was condemned by MPs and Jewish commentators.
Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, tweeted: “Her comments on Corbyn’s antisemitism, in which she actually laughed, were a model of their kind – the contemptible defence of a racist by his allies.”
Comedian and TV presenter Matt Forde added: “Just a tip for Labour spokespeople, like Rebecca Long-Bailey who was on the #R4Today just now. When responding to allegations of antisemitism, NEVER LAUGH. That was shocking.”
Ms Long-Bailey, tipped as a future Labour leader, defended Mr Corbyn, telling Sky News: “He was commenting in a wider political sense in the same way many MPs have done over the years.
“In no way would Labour or Jeremy Corbyn condone any anti-Semitic comments of any kind.”
She said that she had not read Hobson’s book, but added: “The guy in question was a political thinker of his time, whether you agree with his opinions or not.”
The outrage was sparked after it emerged Mr Corbyn described a new edition of economist JA Hobson’s Imperialism: A Study – written in 1902 – as “brilliant, and very controversial at the time” and “a great tome”.
Labour has denied that his comments amounted to an endorsement of sections of the book which are widely regarded as anti-Semitic.
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In the book, Hobson suggested that finance in Europe was controlled “by men of a singular and peculiar race who have behind them many centuries of financial experience” and “are in a unique position to control the policy of nations”.
He argued that the great financial houses have “control which they exercise over the body of public opinion through the press”.
And he suggested that no European state would engage in a great war “if the house of Rothschild and its connections set their face against it”.