SCOTTISH Labour can’t cope with the sheer volume of complaints about racism and anti-Semitism the party is facing, Richard Leonard has admitted.

The party leader said he was “frustrated” by the situation, explaining there was a “resource issue” because of the number of complaints that had been made.

Later, in his keynote speech to conference, Jeremy Corbyn insisted he is “utterly determined” to rid the Labour Party of anti-Semitism, as he urged his warring party to unite behind him in a bid to win power.

The National:

That speech came just hours after Labour peers wrote to Corbyn saying the party’s problem with anti-Semitism was “nothing short of humiliating and a matter of great shame”.

In an extraordinary letter, they condemned the “political failure” to expel anti-Semites, resulting in “an embarrassing and hugely damaging mess” that had diminished the party’s moral authority.

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Written by Lord Harris, the chair of the Labour group in the Lords, it was prompted by a possible investigation of Labour by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The watchdog said it was concerned “Labour may have unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs”.

But Corbyn said rather than fighting within itself, his party should turn its fire on the Tories – who he criticised over their “desperate” handling of Brexit negotiations and austerity policies.

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Corbyn spoke out as he addressed the Scottish Labour conference in Dundee, telling delegates their party was now “the biggest it has been for generations” with “popular policies which people know will improve their lives”.

He told the audience: “The only thing that can hold us back is if we were to turn our fire on each other rather than on the Tory Government and the wealthy establishment interests they represent.”

Earlier, branch office boss Leonard insisted Scottish Labour would not tolerate the problem, telling BBC Radio Scotland: “We want to root out anti-Semitism from every corner of the Labour Party and every corner of society.”

Leonard said the issue of anti-Semitism is one Labour takes “very seriously”.

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He said: “It is something that we are not prepared to tolerate.

“I understand why people feel frustrated that while some people have been expelled from the Labour Party because of their views, I understand why people are frustrated that we’re not getting on with it as quickly as they would like.”

He added: “There’s been a bit of a resource issue because of the number of complaints that have come in.

“As a party we’re trying to deal with them in a way that’s judicious and fair to all parties concerned.

“Because only if they are dealt with in that way can both people who put in complaints and people who are complained against get a proper trial of their views.

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“We’re keen to make sure that how we deal with any complaints is fair but also I am frustrated and I know that other people are frustrated about the length of time it is taking but we are seeking to address that.”

Leonard spoke out after Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, criticised Labour’s handling of allegations of anti-Semitism, saying: “The whole thing frankly stinks.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has complained the party has been too slow to deal with a Labour councillor who made Islamophobic remarks about him.

Leonard accepted that was “simply not satisfactory”.

He said: “The case rests with our national constitutional committee, which is set up to consider these kind of cases. They will be convening a hearing where they will take evidence and then they will make a decision.”

In a wide-ranging speech, Corbyn said it was important to return Labour to power both at Westminster and at Holyrood, so the party could deliver “real change”.

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But he told Labour members: “To get there, we as a party have to be united. That doesn’t mean we have no room for debate and disagreement, discussion. They are the lifeblood of our democracy. But there is no justification for the abuse of anybody.”