Emily Thornberry has defended her claim that antisemitism played a role in a Labour Party row over bullying.
A spokesman for Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary said she had referred to “antisemitism” because it was mentioned in an online debate about a meeting on Saturday at which a female activist was allegedly subjected to sexist bullying.
The senior Labour politician was heavily criticised after she made the comments on ITV’s Peston on Sunday show yesterday. She said she was referring to “extraordinary and untrue allegations” being made about the meeting of Labour’s National Policy Forum.
Ms Thornberry’s aide told the JC: “In her remarks on Peston, Emily was referring to a Twitter exchange between Chris Williamson MP, who was dismissing the mistruths being spread around the NPF row, and a Labour councillor, who responded that - by doing so - he was excusing antisemitism and misogyny.
“Emily was making the wider point that in the online effort to whip up the procedural dispute at the NPF into a major incident there were all manner of extraordinary and untrue allegations being made, mostly by people who were not present, around shoving, swearing, intimidation, and so on, of which the charge of antisemitism by this particular councillor was clearly the most extreme, ludicrous and offensive.”
Following the alleged intimidation of the female Labour activist at the closed-door session, Ms Thornberry appeared to make light of the incident, telling Robert Peston, ITV political editor: “I think there are allegations she was pushed, she was shoved, she was intimidated - that there was antisemitism.
"This is just kind of one of those things. I talked to her afterwards."
Mr Peston did not challenge Ms Thornberry on her comments.
One Labour MP told the JC her had been an “absolute disgrace”.
The MP added: “How could she think it was appropriate to use the very serious issue of antisemitism in such a vile and flippant way?”
Another Labour MP told the Politics Home website: “No one mentioned antisemitism except her. There seem to be no depths to which she will not go."