A key ally of UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has been recorded berating Jewish “Trump fanatics” for inventing claims of anti-Semitism now swamping the hard-left party.
In the audio, obtained by the Jewish Chronicle, National Executive Committee member Peter Willsman is heard telling a meeting that he would be “amazed” if anyone there had seen examples of anti-Semitism within the party.
“They can falsify social media very easily,” a clearly agitated Mr. Willsman says. “And some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump. They’re Trump fanatics and all the rest of it.”
Mr. Willsman went on to say he would not be “lectured by Trump fanatics” who he claimed were making up claims “without any evidence at all”.
And he questioned whether dozens of rabbis were telling the truth when they complained about allegations of anti-Semitism in Labour.
Mr Willsman’s membership of the NEC is backed by the hard-left Momentum group within Labour. He is part of a raft of hard left-wing candidates seeking re-election to the committee dubbed the ‘JC9’.
He is also secretary of the Campaign For Labour Democracy group, which supported Ken Livingstone over his controversial remarks in 2016 about Hitler and Zionism.
Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said he was ‘disgusted’ by the recording and tweeted:
For the avoidance of doubt: Peter Willsman is and always has been a loud mouthed bully. He disgusts me. https://t.co/FwyMZYsaMq
— Tom Watson (@tom_watson) July 30, 2018
After the July 17 meeting, Mr. Willsman was the subject of two formal complaints for his remarks – one from the Jewish Labour Movement. He escaped formal censure after apologising, although he suggested he had been misquoted.
Last night Labour MP Luciana Berger demanded the suspension of Mr Willsman for his “venom and fury” and tweeted her disapproval:
Sickening to listen to this. The fact that it took place in a meeting of @UKLabour’s sovereign body the other week after all that’s happened is a disgrace. Blaming any other minority group wldn’t be tolerated – why is the Jewish community treated this way? https://t.co/79mEEeqsuI
— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) July 30, 2018
She told the Jewish Chronicle: “Anyone listening to this recording will be appalled to hear the venom and fury directed by Mr Willsman at the British Jewish community. That he accuses the Jewish community of falsifying social media and being ‘Trump fanatics’ in order to deny the serious concerns of 68 rabbis beggars belief.”
Berger added that NEC papers and recent press reports provided evidence of anti-Semitism in the Labour party. She said:
In the past week alone, two Labour councillors have been suspended and the party has confirmed that 252 people are being investigated for the comments they’ve made online directed at Dame Margaret Hodge MP. Now an accurate record of this diatribe has been identified the party should urgently conduct a formal investigation of this conduct and suspend him today.
A Labour spokesperson on the weekend said Mr. Corbyn was a “militant opponent” of anti-Semitism and remained “absolutely committed” to tackling it.
That was before Jewish Labour MP Ian Austin accused Mr. Corbyn of “supporting and defending” extremists and anti-Semites.
Mr Austin, the adopted son of Jewish Czech refugees who lost relatives in the Holocaust, told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend that he was “deeply ashamed” of Labour and accused Corbyn of bringing the party to an “extreme” form of politics.
The Labour Party is currently probing over 250 complaints of anti-Semitic abuse amongst its membership. That number is expected to rise sharply after the events of the past 48 hours.
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