Momentum boss Jon Lansman: Labour has a major problem with anti-semitism
Labour has a "major problem" with anti-semitism and must do more to root out a "hardcore" of members spouting hate-filled views about Jewish people, Jon Lansman has declared.
The Momentum boss also said that many of those who had joined the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader subscribed to "conspiracy theories".
His comments risked setting him on a collision course with the Labour leader, who has rejected claims the party has a significant issue with anti-semitic members.
Mr Lansman's comments came a week after Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger joined six of her backbench colleagues in quitting the party, which she said was "institutionally anti-semitic".
The Momentum boss - a long-standing ally of Mr Corbyn - said the Liverpool Wavertree MP's departure was a “source of regret and sadness and some shame”.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Lansman said: "I do think we have a major problem and it always seems to me that we underestimate the scale of it.
“It think it is a widespread problem. I think it’s now obvious that we have a much larger number of people with hardcore anti-semitic opinions which unfortunately is polluting the atmosphere in a lot of constituency parties and in particular online and we have to deal with those people."
He added: "One aspect of the problem is the party trebled in size, we took in 300,000 and more new members and amongst those members are members who are attracted towards conspiracy theories."
Mr Lansman, who is also a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee, said the party needed to be “more proactive” in seeking out cases of anti-Jewish racism.
His comments came a day after Tom Watson revealed he had passed on 50 complaints about anti-semitism from colleagues to Mr Corbyn in the past week.
"He needs to take a personal lead in reviewing those cases, and recommending to the national executive committee what needs to be done,” Mr Watson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
"I'm saying for us to hold this party together, things have got to change.
"There's almost a sort of crisis for the soul of the Labour Party now and that means that everyone that cares about our future, whatever tradition they represent, has to find it within themselves to work more closely together."