Tom Watson says Labour's antisemitism crisis 'worse' now

Deputy Leader 'ashamed' of party's response to Jew hate


Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, has said the party's antisemitism crisis has got "worse" over the past year.

In a damning indictment of leader Jeremy Corbyn's failure to tackle the issue, Mr Watson told members of the Jewish Labour Movement: "This time last year, in my message to you, I said that it had been an exceptionally difficult year for Jewish members of the Labour Party.

"This year has been worse. I won't pretend it hasn't."

In a written message sent out to JLM members with the organisation's annual report, Mr Watson added that the problem was "not just with individual cases of antisemitism" but with "wider patterns of association."

He added: "All of us in positions of leadership and especially the party's elected representatives have a responsibility to reflect on the messages we send out by our actions."

Mr Watson then suggested it was "painful" to see antisemitism "ignored, or minimised, or excused" by some Labour members and supporters.

He said: "It isn't acceptable and I am ashamed of it."

Referring to the recent resignation of Ken Livingstone from the party, he said he was "delighted that at long last" the former London Mayor was no longer a member.

He also said he was "pleased" that Marc Wadsworth had been expelled.

Mr Watson suggested that Labour's General Secretary Jennie Formby has "staked her reputation" on dealing with antisemitism.

He also said he wanted to pay "tribute" to the JLM's Parliamentary Chair Luciana Berger and the "very many" Labour MPs who took part in the Enough Is Enough protest earlier this year in Parliament Square.

In his own message to JLM's 2000 members Jeremy Corbyn said he would "do all in my power" to "strengthen those bonds which have become so sadly weakened between your community - the Jewish community - and our party."

At last week's JLM AGM in Westminster, Ivor Caplin was confirmed as the group's new chair - replacing Jeremy Newmark who resigned earlier this year.

In his first speech in the role, Mr Caplin, a former Labour MP and defence minister in Tony Blair's government, said: "Far too often we are seeing antisemitism dressed up by some as comment on Israel - it is not and it has to stop."

Singling out notorious Labour MP Chris Williamson, Mr Caplin said: "I am really disappointed the Chief Whip has not withdrawn the Whip from him yet."

He also called on Home Secretary Sajid Javid to follow through promises to fully proscribe Hezbollah in the UK.

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