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Sun, 29 March 2020

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By Dods General Election Hub 2019

Former Labour official who quit over Holocaust row backs Peter Willsman in anti-Semitism dispute

Former Labour official who quit over Holocaust row backs Peter Willsman in anti-Semitism dispute
3 min read

A former Labour official forced to quit for defending a Holocaust denier has backed Peter Willsman's bid to be re-elected to the party's national executive committee.


Christine Shawcroft said Labour members should vote for the veteran left-winger - who is mired in an anti-Semitism row - unless they "want to make Tom Watson very happy".

Her intervention comes despite the fact that Momentum - which she remains a director of - have dropped their support for Mr Willsman after he dismissed Jewish critics of Jeremy Corbyn as "Trump fanatics".

Labour deputy leader Mr Watson led the criticism of his comments, calling Mr Willsman a "bully".

Mr Willsman has since apologised for the remarks and agreed to take part in equalities training.

The long-standing Labour activist is part of a nine-strong left-wing slate standing in the NEC elections dubbed the '#JC9' because of their support for Mr Corbyn.

Christine Shawcroft was ordered to stand down as head of Labour's disputes panel after it emerged she had defended election candidate Alan Bull after he posted an article on Facebook claiming the Holocaust was a hoax.

She later resigned as a member of the NEC, and said: "I reaffirm my complete opposition to anti-Semitism and my abhorrence of Holocaust denial, and support all measures to tackle this within the party."

Writing on her Facebook page today, Ms Shawcroft said: "Support the JC9. ALL the JC9. Including Pete Willsman, including Jon Lansman. Unless you want to make Tom Watson very happy, which I, for one, don't."

 

 

Richard Angell, director of moderate Labour campaign group Progress, said: "If I were Christine Shawcroft and had defended a Holocaust denier I would still be ashamed and not jumping to the defence of a factional ally. Pete Willsman’s comments were offensive, dismissive of the victims of anti-Semitism and bring the Labour Party into disrepute. 

"Momentum should now sever all ties with both figures who have cause such offence and call for Pete Willsman to resign from the NEC immediately."

The row is further evidence of the deep splits on the left which have opened up as a result of Labour's latest anti-Semitism controversy.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack hit out at Momentum's decision to condemn Mr Willsman, while some activists have vowed to resign their membership of the group.

 

 

Karie Murphy, Jeremy Corbyn's chief of staff, is also known to be furious at Momentum's decision, which she believes plays into the hands of the Labour leader's critics.

One senior Labour source told PoliticsHome: "This is a crisis made worse by Karie’s mishandling of the situation - there is huge anger being directed at her from left wing figures."

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