Britain’s leading Jewish organisation has called on Jeremy Corbyn to consider sacking a shadow minister who dismissed antisemitism allegations against Labour as a “really dirty lowdown trick”.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews wants action taken against Shadow Fire Minister Chris Williamson after the Derby North MP claimed there had been a “weaponisation of antisemitism for political ends”.
In an interview with the Guardian, Williamson described the row over Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism allegations against Labour as “bullshit” and “repellent.”
Labour was marred with allegations of antisemitism in 2016, culminating in a report from the former head of Liberty – now the party’s Shadow Attorney General Shami Chakrabarti – calling on members to “resist the use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors” as part of a package of recommendations to tackle racism.
Board of Deputies Vice President Marie van der Zyl said: “The Jewish community would expect a Labour MP and shadow minister like Chris Williamson to show solidarity with those suffering racism within his own party rather than blaming the victims.”
Referring to Williamson’s call for women-only train carriages in order to tackle assaults on the railways – a suggestion dismissed by Corbyn – van der Zyl added: “After a second failure on equalities issues in a week, the Labour leadership should consider whether Williamson is a suitable person to serve as a front-bench spokesperson.”
In the interview, Williamson explained how he felt criticism of Corbyn’s handling of antisemitism in the party and his views on Venezuela were “proxy wars and bullshit”.
He said: “I’m not saying it never ever happens but it is a really dirty, lowdown trick, particularly the antisemitism smears. Many people in the Jewish community are appalled by what they see as the weaponisation of antisemitism for political ends.
“It is pretty repellent to use that to attack somebody like Jeremy Corbyn, who has spent his whole life fighting for social justice and standing up for the underdog.
“But I feel people have stopped listening to the smears and lies and dirty tricks. I think for all the talk about Venezuela and antisemitism, and the latest thing is sexism now, Jeremy’s overwhelming landslide victories in the leadership elections and the general election mean people have stopped listening to the smears.”