Labour “too apologetic” about antisemitism claims, says Williamson

The Labour Party has been “too apologetic” in its response to antisemitism claims, according to backbencher Chris Williamson.

In footage revealed by the Yorkshire Post, Williamson tells a Momentum event in Sheffield: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.

“I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.”

He also says he celebrated the resignations of Labour MPs last week and sang the 1980s Kool and the Gang hit Celebration at “full blast” in his office.

Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh, who is thought to be considering leaving Labour, criticised the comments, while Kate Green said she was “sickened”.

A party spokesperson said: “This is deeply offensive. Downplaying the problem of antisemitism makes it harder for us to tackle it and celebrating a fellow MP’s departure is completely inappropriate. Chris Williamson should apologise.”

Deputy leader Tom Watson has revealed that he is writing to Labour’s chief whip asking that the whip be removed from Williamson, who Watson says has brought the party into disrepute.

The Williamson videos emerged last night, shortly after Jewish News revealed the MP’s plans to host a Jewish Voice for Labour event in parliament and screen a film by Jackie Walker, who is suspended from the party.

Labour MP Ruth Smeeth described the room booking by Williamson as “outrageous” and Tom Watson said he had reported the matter to the chief whip and general secretary.

A Labour Party spokesperson commented: “It’s completely inappropriate to book a room for an event about an individual who is suspended from the party and subject to ongoing disciplinary procedures. This falls below the standards we expect of MPs.”

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