Labour MP Condemns Party Where ‘Anti-Semitism Is More than Tolerated’

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 08: Campaigners from the Campaign Against Antisemitism demonstrate and listen to speakers outside the Labour Party headquarters on April 8, 2018 in London, England. Protesters are calling on Labour's hierarchy to 'hold Jeremy Corbyn to account' after claims that he and the party are not doing …
Christopher Furlong/Getty

Labour MP Frank Field, who resigned the whip Thursday, has said that “anti-Semitism is more than tolerated” in the Labour Party, which under far-leftist Jeremy Corbyn has “display[ed] intolerance, nastiness, and intimidation at all too many levels”.

“The public has seen the Party adopt a sectarian approach to countering and rebuffing reports of anti-Semitism,” Mr Field wrote in the Liverpool Echo Friday.

“Instead of the Party leading the attack on these racist views, we have become, under Jeremy’s leadership, a Party where anti-Semitism is more than tolerated.”

He urged the party to adopt two reforms by stopping “the current excuses for its blatantly racist toleration of anti-Semitism” and to “recognise the culture of intolerance, nastiness, and intimidation that it has allowed to grow unchecked and expel local members whose public conduct is simply disgraceful”.

The Brexit supporter also condemned the “sheer thuggery” and “blatant bullying” in his Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party, where he alleges that his reporting of racism, bullying, ageism, and sexism have not been investigated. In addition, he accused the national party of ignoring the actions of “people with thuggish reputations”.

“It is important to clarify that, in resigning the whip I am not resigning from the Labour Party. I shall remain very much a Party member.

“But I cannot, through continuing to take the Labour whip, lend any legitimacy to the most appalling culture which is now dominating national and local Labour Party institutions,” he added.

Sky News’s political correspondent Tom Rainer said Friday said that people close to Corbyn’s office have pointed to Mr Field’s conflict with his constituency party and the reason for his resignation was to avoid deselection — a mechanism being threatened against fellow Labour Brexiteer Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey. Mr Field disputes this, and stands by his resigning the whip as related to the party’s anti-Semitism.

The veteran Labour MP is due to meet with chief whip Nick Brown later on Friday, and suggested in the morning that his resigning the whip could trigger a by-election in his constituency if he is cannot sit as an independent Labour MP.

“I spoke to the chief whip yesterday. I said I wished to remain a member and I wished at some stage, when these reforms are done, to seek the Labour whip again. I was told, ‘of course you would remain a member of the Labour Party’ — but that may not be the position and I will learn about that later today.”

The MP for Birkenhead has represented the constituency since 1979, and fought off attempts from the far-left group Militant Tendency to deselect him in the 1980s, and has a strong, 25,000 majority. If a by-election is triggered, and a far-left or Momentum allied candidate is chosen to stand against him as the Labour candidate, the vote would be seen as a referendum on Corbynism.

The party’s deputy leader Tom Watson called Field’s resignation of the whip a “serious loss”, saying that he “deeply regret[s] Frank’s decision”.

“It reflects both the deep divisions in the party and the sense of drift engulfing us.

“It is a major wake up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature.”

Mr Watson said earlier this month that the party’s institutionalised anti-Semitism must be rectified or Labour will “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment”.

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