“What would you do to get the hate out of politics?” a British citizen asked Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn a week before the Dec. 12 U.K. election, during a BBC debate. It was a legitimate question to put to both of them, as the leaders of the two major British national political parties.
For Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, it was primarily about the accusation that the party leadership, himself included, had not been strong enough on tackling anti-Semitism within Labour’s ranks. For Johnson, it was about Islamophobia and bigotry against Muslims in his Conservative Party. Neither gave an answer that differed tremendously from previous statements; they were perceived as dodging and deflecting the accusations.
Considering that reported hate crimes against Jews in England and Wales doubled in 2018 to 2019 as compared to the previous year (1,326 compared to 672), anti-Semitism is plainly an issue that needs to be addressed by the Labour Party and U.K. society as a whole. In the same period, almost three times as many hate crimes (3,530) were committed against Muslims, accounting for almost half of all hate crimes against religious groups in the U.K. altogether—yet attention to that issue has been paltry in comparison.