Labour deputy challenges Corbyn to tackle in-party racism after MP suspension
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has asked Jeremy Corbyn to meet him on Monday to discuss alleged anti-semitism within the Labour party.
On Good Morning Britain, Mr Watson said the fight against anti-semitism in the party was a ‘battle for Labour’s soul’.
He said: “I’m not going to allow [the Labour party] to be tainted by a racist badge. I’m going to speak out when I see cases of anti-semitism.”
This follows the suspension of Labour MP Chris Williamson, who was filmed saying the Labour Party was ‘too apologetic’ for anti-semitism and was being ‘demonised as a racist, bigoted party’.
Mr Watson believes Mr Williamson was being ‘deliberately inflammatory’ when he made those comments.
He was one of the Labour MPs who wrote to the Labour party’s chief whip calling for Mr Williamson’s suspension, and has hit out at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for not tackling an issue he believes is ruining the reputation of the party.
“I’m gonna be calling it out every day - that’s a challenge to Jeremy,” he said.
“I understand very, very clearly the only way we’ll rebuild trust with the British Jewish community is to deal with anti-semitism as the number one priority in my party.”
Corbyn has been criticised in the past for his inaction on racism within his ranks, and the backlash has only been fuelled after the resignation of nine MPs in February; some cited anti-semitism in the party as the reason.
The most controversial resignation was that of Jewish MP Luciana Berger, who allegedly received hundreds of anti-semitic messages.
“When Luciana Berger left, I thought it was the gravest day of shame that my party has ever had - a young, pregnant member of parliament bullied out of party by racist thugs,” said Mr Watson on the programme.
He also implored other MPs who are considering leaving Labour to help him tackle racism from within.
“We are perilously close to other MPs leaving. I say to them ‘stay and fight your corner’," he said.
Mr Williamson has released an apology on Twitter, stating: “I deeply regret and apologise for my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour Party has responded to the ongoing fight against anti-Semitism inside our party.”
"Our movement can never be too apologetic about racism in our ranks. While it is true there have been very few cases of anti-Semitism in Labour, something I believe is often forgotten when discussing this issue, it is also true that those few are too many."