Labour ‘too apologetic’ over antisemitism, says Corbyn ally Chris Williamson | UK News
Labour MP Chris Williamson told a meeting of Momentum activists that the party had been “too apologetic” over antisemitism, it has emerged.
Footage from the meeting obtained by the Yorkshire Post shows the ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn defending the party’s record on antisemitism, saying it had “stood up to racism” but is “now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party”.
The Derby North MP told activists in Sheffield: “I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off too much, we’ve given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic.
“We’ve actually done more to address the scourge of antisemitism than any other political party.”
He also recounted singing Celebration in response to the resignations of a number of Labour MPs last week, many of whom cited antisemitism as a reason for their departure.
Eight former Labour MPs, including Luciana Berger and Joan Ryan, quit the party to form The Independent Group.
The footage comes amid criticism of Mr Williamson for booking a room in parliament to screen a controversial film about antisemitism named Witch Hunt.
Mr Williamson helped to arrange a screening of the documentary, directed by Jon Pullman, which explores antisemitism allegations in the party and defends activist Jackie Walker.
Ms Walker was suspended by Labour over allegedly antisemitic comments she made in 2016 that she had not found a definition of antisemitism she could work with and that Holocaust Memorial Day was not inclusive enough.
A Labour spokesperson said it was “completely inappropriate” to screen the documentary and Mr Williamson’s actions fell “below the standards” expected of MPs.
The film was due to be screened in the House of Commons on 4 March by Jewish Voice for Labour, a Corbyn-backing party organisation that has previously said Labour does not have an issue with antisemitism.
Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said he reported the matter to party officials “as soon” as he found out about it.
Other complaints also came from MPs Lillian Greenwood and Ruth Smeeth.
Mr Williamson has previously said accusations of antisemitism in the party were being made “for political ends”.
Referencing the film screening, he told the Guardian that he had only booked the room, was not hosting the event and did not plan to go to the screening.
Earlier this week, Momentum chair Jon Lansman admitted there was a “major problem” with antisemitism within Labour and a “much larger number of people with hardcore antisemitic opinions” than first thought.