Labour members who make anti-Semitic remarks should be expelled, says Jonathan Ashworth

Labour members who make "disgusting" anti-Semitic remarks should be expelled and the party should adopt a "zero tolerance" approach to the problem, a shadow cabinet minister has said.

Jonathan Ashworth was speaking as Labour again found itself at the centre of a row over allegations of anti-Semitism, which threatened to overshadow the party's agenda at its conference in Brighton.

On Monday, Israeli-American author Miko Peled told a fringe event: "This is about free speech, the freedom to criticise and to discuss every issue, whether it's the Holocaust: yes or no, Palestine, the liberation, the whole spectrum. There should be no limits on the discussion."

According to the Daily Mail, he said: "It's about the limits of tolerance: we don't invite the Nazis and give them an hour to explain why they are right; we do not invite apartheid South Africa racists to explain why apartheid was good for the blacks, and in the same way we do not invite Zionists - it's a very similar kind of thing."

Mr Ashworth condemned the remarks and said the Jewish Labour Movement's "very important" motion for tougher rules on anti-Semitism was coming before the conference on Tuesday morning with the support of the party's ruling body.

Speaking on ITV's Good Morning Britain, the shadow health secretary went on: "That motion has got my complete and full support and I hope the conference votes for that motion because we should have absolute zero tolerance when it comes to the quite disgusting and pitiful anti-Semitism that sadly we're sometimes seeing on social media these days, and indeed, as I believe if you look at the newspapers, I wasn't there ... was at an event in Brighton last night."

Asked whether the remarks had given those at the top of the party a lot of concern, he replied: "Yes, yes it has.

"And I think party members who make anti-Semitic remarks, who make some of these disgusting Holocaust denial statements, they shouldn't be in the party, they should be expelled."

He added: "If any of those people who are named, are making these statements, they shouldn't be in the Labour Party.

"The Jewish Labour Movement has long been involved in the party for donkey's years and they should remain in the party for years to come as well."

Labour sources said the party was not responsible for the content of fringe events staged by groups that had no affiliation to the party.

Last year Labour MP Naz Shah and three councillors were suspended by the party in connection with anti-Semitic posts on social media.

In April, the former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone was suspended over controversial comments about Adolf Hitler and Zionism.

A party spokesman said: "Labour condemns anti-Semitism in the strongest possible terms and our National Executive Committee unanimously passed tough new rule changes last week.

"All groupings in the party should treat one another with respect. We will not tolerate anti-Semitism or Holocaust denial."