"I have been very uncomfortable and slightly ashamed”
Economist, author and peer Lord Meghnad Desai has resigned as a member of the Labour Party, citing racism as the reason.
The 80-year-old stated that the party has failed to effectively tackle antisemitic racism within its ranks.
The peer said he has only ever been a Labour Party supporter but he was forced to make the decision quit on November 19, 2020, after 49 years in the party.
This is a significant development for Lord Meghnad Desai’s own political career as well as the Labour Party.
He made the decision after former party leader Jeremy Corbyn was readmitted after just 19 days of suspension despite findings of “unlawful acts” by the country’s human rights watchdog.
Lord Desai said: “It was a very peculiar decision to allow him back without any apology.
“He has been refused the party whip in the House of Commons for a few months, but that is a very lame response to a very big crisis.
“I have been very uncomfortable and slightly ashamed that the party has been injected with this sort of racism.
“Jewish MPs were abused openly, and female members were trolled. It is out and out racism.”
The Labour Party has been plagued by allegations of antisemitism over the years, with its disastrous electoral defeat in the December 2019 election also linked to the crisis.
Sir Keir Starmer took over as the new party leader earlier in 2020.
He did so with the promise of ridding the party of racism and had taken the step to suspend Corbyn in October 2020.
After Corbyn seemed to downplay the very critical findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
The watchdog found that Labour had broken the law in its failure to handle antisemitism, or anti-Jewish, complaints and there were “serious failings” by its leadership at the time.
Lord Desai continued:
“I don’t see things really changing in the foreseeable future and have to ultimately live with my conscience.
“I can’t go on being in an antisemitic party.”
He has sent his resignation letter to the Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Lords, Baroness Angela Smith.
Despite many appeals for him to reconsider, he will now sit as an independent peer while his application to be part of the Crossbench group of the UK Parliament’s Upper House is underway.