Vivien Lichtenstein

Kensington’s Jewish Green hopeful blames Labour anti-semitism on bad leadership

By Tom Holmes
December 9 2019, 14.30

Labour’s anti-semitism problem is a result of bad leadership according to Jewish Green candidate Vivien Lichtenstein.

Ms Lichtenstein, whose parents were Holocaust survivors, added she’s not sure that Jeremy Corbyn is personally anti-semitic.

The Kensington candidate has set up an organisation for Jewish Greens, aiming to support Jewish members of the party and ensure their voice is heard.

She said: “It’s mind-boggling that anti-semitism has been allowed to fester in the Labour Party and that they haven’t been able to deal with it.

“There’s a lot of excuses from people within the Labour Party but it just comes down to three years of bad leadership.

“It’s baffling that the different factions of the party, those that think anti-semitism is a problem and those that don’t, haven’t been able to sit down and hash the situation out.”

Kensington is a Labour seat, albeit an incredibly marginal one, with Emma Dent Coad winning by just 20 votes in 2017.

The Greens secured just 2% of the vote in 2017, with less than 800 votes.

Ms Lichtenstein joined the party in 1997 and co-founded West Central London Green Party, to bolster Green support in west London.

Despite her criticisms of Labour’s leadership, she refused to be drawn into calling Mr Corbyn anti-semitic himself.

She said: “I think there have been times when he’s been accused of things personally and the facts have been manipulated and it’s taken days for Labour to respond.

“If you’ve got a decent team around you, you’d handle these issues immediately and not let days go past.

“He needs a better team around him if he is to be Prime Minister and I do not understand how his advisors haven’t pushed him to deal more strongly with anti-semitism.”

Speaking more broadly about her experiences with anti-semitism, Ms Lichtenstein said that she’s been fortunate enough not to experience it herself in politics.

However she suffered discrimination as a child, saying it was an on-going problem at school, and recalled being verbally abused in the street when running a multi-faith event.

She added: “It’s not up to Jews to be responsible for confronting anti-semitism.

“It’s up to the communities where it’s coming from. Just as if there’s any racism in our Jewish communities, then it is our responsibility to deal with that.

“We can tell them what’s anti-semitic and what isn’t but they should be dealing with it.”

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