Tom Watson has said that Jeremy Corbyn must act immediately to rectify the party’s institutionalised anti-Semitism or Labour will “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment”.
Mr Watson told Sunday’s Observer that the far-left Labour leader should drop investigations into Jewish MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin who clashed with party officials over the National Executive Committee’s decision to adopt a watered-down definition of anti-Semitism.
“I think it is very important that we all work to de-escalate this disagreement, and I think it starts with dropping the investigations into Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin,” the deputy party leader said.
“I have frequently had very difficult conversations with both Margaret and Ian but what I understand is that your critics are not your enemies. On an issue that is so dear to them, I think people are very, very concerned that these investigations should be dropped quickly.”
Watson also said the party should “stand up for what is right” and accept the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, saying: “We should deal with this swiftly and move on. We can’t have this dragging on throughout the summer. I have made no secret of the fact that … we should adopt the full IHRA definition and should do it without delay.”
Jewish Leaders Condemn Corbyn’s ‘Meaningless’ Response to Labour Party’s ‘Institutional’ Anti-Semitism https://t.co/0Lb3uRSw8V
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 4, 2018
The party’s definition — adopted by the NEC in mid-July but rejected by party MPs — takes much from the IHRA’s definition but omits four key points related to Jewish identity and Israel — leaving wide open the ability to express hatred of Jews in the guise of criticism of the Jewish state.
Following criticism by the party’s Jewish community and ongoing anti-Semitism scandals, Corbyn wrote an opinion piece in The Guardian on Saturday, in which, while admitting there was an anti-Semitism problem in the party, the far-leftist failed to apologise or admit his own role in the crisis, with Jewish leaders calling Corbyn’s promise to clean up the party “meaningless”.
In the party’s most recent scandal, Peter Willsman, who is seeking re-election to the NEC, denied there was an anti-Semitism problem and alleged that Jewish “Trump fanatics” were inventing claims of anti-Semitism in secret recordings revealed last week.
The Corbyn ally’s campaign was initially backed by the Momentum group within Labour before being dropped on Thursday, the hard-left faction removing him from their “JC9″ slate for re-election.
However, Willsman’s name is still on the NEC ballot, and the party leader has not indicated that he will call for him to be dropped, further backing claims from Labour’s Jewish members that Corbyn “used very strong words” but “demonstrates very little action”.