Tom Watson hits back amid calls for his resignation over anti-Semitism stance
Tom Watson has hit back after receiving a deluge of abuse on social media for speaking out against Labour’s anti-Semitism problem.
Labour’s deputy leader faced calls to resign from Jeremy Corbyn supporters after he warned that the party would "disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment" if it failed to tackle its ongoing anti-Semitism crisis.
In an interview with the Observer, he also called for backbenchers Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin - who have also spoken out on the issue - to have disciplinary proceedings against them dropped.
But the intervention sparked fury among Mr Corbyn’s supporters on social media, who used the Twitter hashtag #resignwatson to demand that he step down.
Hitting back last night Mr Watson tweeted: "It sometimes feels like people have been calling for me to stand down from day one but I never, ever thought I’d be facing demands to #resignwatson for standing up for people who are facing prejudice and hate.”
It comes as the Labour leader admitted that the party had been “too slow” to deal with anti-Semitism cases and apologised to Jewish people for the “hurt that has been caused”.
In a video released yesterday, Mr Corbyn added: “It is my responsibility to root out anti-Semitism in the Labour party.”
The Labour leadership has been under fire from Jewish groups and some of its own MPs since it decided not to take on the widely used International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism in full as part of a new code of conduct.
Jewish News reported yesterday that the party is now preparing to accept three more of the IHRA’s eleven illustrative examples.
According to the publication, Mr Corbyn is set to concede that comparisons between Israel and the Nazis are anti-Semitic.
However, it is understood that he will not seek to outlaw claims that the Jewish state is a “racist endeavour”.
Responding to the speculation, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said on Twitter it would not “accept a watered down definition designed to let antisemites off the hook.”