Jeremy Corbyn ally backs MP 'hounded out' of local party meeting over anti-Semitism row
Angela Rayner has condemned local Labour members who forced their MP to flee a meeting over her support for a demonstration against anti-Semitism.
She also said she had been left "a little frustrated" by the speed at which Labour had responded to the Chakrabarti report into anti-Semitism and other forms of racism.
Thangam Debbonaire was heckled by activists at a packed meeting in Bristol West at which a motion criticising the demo organised by major Jewish groups was narrowly defeated.
The Shadow Education Secretary said her colleague was an “an absolute credit” to the party and urged activists to channel their anger onto the Government’s policies instead.
“Thangam’s doing a fantastic job. She shouldn’t be hounded out of any meeting,” she told the Andrew Marr Show.
“We have debates in the Labour party, that’s quite fine but she’s absolutely right to be able to protest and Jeremy [Corbyn] has made that clear as well…”
“What they need to concentrate on is highlighting the devastating effects on our communities of this Tory-led government on our local councils.”
The Labour leader yesterday said Ms Debbonaire was a “great MP”, adding that he had “no problem with anybody attending demonstrations”.
Ms Rayner also distanced herself from a motion at the same meeting, which said that “when people see inequality, ecological disaster and war alongside the accumulation of unprecedented wealth, in the private hands of a few, it is reasonable that they seek out explanations”.
Asked what it meant if it were not a “grotesquely anti-Semitic trope”, she repeated that she had not seen the motion, but added that people feel "quite annoyed" about and want action against inequality "in the broader sense".
She added: “But let’s be absolutely clear, there is no place for anti-Semitism in the party, but there is a place for fantastic local MPs like Thangam Debbonaire who is getting on with the job of protecting the most vulnerable in society.”
Ms Debbonaire has thanked those who supported her after the incident and condemned the "unproductive" nature of the meeting.
Elsewhere, Ms Rayner admitted Labour had been slow to implement the recommendations in the 2016 Chakrabarti inquiry, into anti-Semitism and racism in party ranks.
"I've been a little frustrated that we haven't moved forward on the Chakrabarti report as fast was I would've liked to have seen" she said.
"We need to make sure that the full Chakrabarti report is implemented and that we have an absolute zero tolerance.
"It can't be right when people see on social media - and it's not just the Labour Party but across the board - anti-Semitic rhetoric and they see no action taken or that action is far too slow."