Jewish group urges Labour to sack Chris Williamson over anti-semitism comments
Britain's leading Jewish organisation has called on Jeremy Corbyn to sack a shadow minister who claimed accusations of anti-semitism within the party were a "dirty lowdown trick" being used for "political ends".
The Board of Deputies of British Jews spoke out after Chris Williamson told The Guardian that Mr Corbyn's political opponents were using claims of anti-semitism to try and hurt the Labour leader.
“I’m not saying it never ever happens but it is a really dirty, lowdown trick, particularly the anti-semitism smears," the shadow fire minister said yesterday.
"Many people in the Jewish community are appalled by what they see as the weaponisation of anti-semitism for political ends."
The Board's vice president, Marie van der Zyl, said Labour should consider sacking Mr Williamson, who also provoked controversy last week when he told PoliticsHome it would be "worth consulting" on introducing women-only train carriages in an attempt to tackle sex attacks.
“The Jewish community would expect a Labour MP and shadow minister like Chris Williamson to show solidarity with those suffering racism within his own party rather than blaming the victims," Ms van der Zyl said.
"After a second failure on equalities issues in a week, the Labour leadership should consider whether Williamson is a suitable person to serve as a front-bench spokesperson.”
Mr Williamson denied the suggestion he was victim-blaming, but doubled down on his claim that allegations of anti-semitism had been used as a political weapon.
"I absolutely did not and never would blame the victims of anti-semitism or any form or racism and bigotry," he said in a statement.
"Anti-semitism is utterly repugnant and a scourge on society, which is why I stand in absolute solidarity with anyone who is subjected to anti-semitic abuse.
"The point I was trying to make is that accusations have on occasions been used for factional or party political ends."