Calls for Labour to expel ruling body member over ‘disgusting rant’ about Jews

- Advertisement -

Jewish leaders have called for Labour to expel a member of its ruling body over a “disgusting rant” about Jews.

Peter Willsman was recorded calling some members of the Jewish community “Trump fanatics” and suggesting they were “making up” problems about anti-Semitism in the party.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson described the National Executive Committee member as a “loud-mouthed bully”, while Jewish Labour Movement chairwoman Luciana Berger said the comments were “sickening”.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews, made up of almost 300 deputies directly elected by synagogues and community organisations, said Labour had let Mr Willsman off lightly by not taking disciplinary action against him.

President Marie van der Zyl questioned whether Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and party general secretary Jennie Formby had witnessed the outburst at a meeting of the NEC.

And she pointed to the swift move to take disciplinary action against Labour MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin over their reaction to the handling of anti-Semitism in the party.

In a series of tweets, she said: “Now Peter Willsman’s disgusting rant against Jewish community & rabbis has been made public by @JewishChron, & what seems to be lying exposed about what he did & didn’t say, he should be summarily expelled.

“Was Jennie Formby there to hear what was said? If yes, why did she let Willsman off so lightly?

“Why has it been so easy to clear Willsman after his slurs against the Jewish community, but anti-racist MPs @MargaretHodge & @IanAustinMP are still being put through the ringer (sic)?

“Was Jeremy Corbyn there to hear Willsman? If so, what form did his professed ‘militant opposition’ to antisemitism take when he heard it?”

Mr Willsman said he “deeply apologised” for any offence caused by the comments, but insisted that not all of what he said had been “accurately reported”.

In the clip acquired by the Jewish Chronicle, Mr Willsman can be heard saying with a raised voice: “Some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump – they are Trump fanatics and all the rest of it.

“So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics making up information without any evidence at all.

“So I think we should ask the 70 rabbis ‘Where is your evidence of severe and widespread anti-Semitism in this party?’”

In an open letter earlier this month, 68 rabbis called on Labour to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, including its examples.

They said anti-Semitism within “sections of the Labour Party” had become “so severe and widespread that we must speak out with one Jewish voice”.

But the NEC did not include all of the illustrative examples set out by the IHRA.

Labour insisted that, while they were not reproduced word for word, they are covered in the new code.

Ms Berger told the Jewish Chronicle that Labour should suspend Mr Willsman and conduct a “formal investigation”.

She wrote on Twitter: “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?”

Mr Watson tweeted: “For the avoidance of doubt: Peter Willsman is and always has been a loud mouthed bully. He disgusts me.”

Mr Willsman, whose position on the NEC is up for re-election over the summer, said: “I deeply apologise for any offence caused to those present and those to whom my remarks were reported.”

“Not all of what I said has been accurately reported,” he told the BBC.

“But I accept that what I did say, and the way I said it, fell short of the requirement, which I accept, for discussions of contentious issues to be conducted in a fully civil and respectful way.”

Labour said it did not comment on individual cases.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest Stories

- Advertisement -

UK News

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Read the latest free supplements

Read the Town Crier, Le Rocher and a whole host of other subjects like mortgage advice, business, cycling, travel and property.