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Labour ruling body considers anti-Semitism row

Activist Pete Willsman received both cheers and jeers as he arrived for the meeting.

Peter Willsman arriving for a meeting of the Labour National Executive Committee (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Peter Willsman arriving for a meeting of the Labour National Executive Committee (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A Labour activist at the centre of a row over allegedly anti-Semitic comments was cheered as he arrived for a meeting of the party’s ruling body.

Pete Willsman was re-elected to Labour’s National Executive Committee on Monday despite losing the support of the influential Momentum group after it emerged he had blamed Jewish “Trump fanatics” for the anti-Semitism row which has dogged Jeremy Corbyn through the summer.

The NEC is expected to approve the incorporation in full of an international definition of anti-Semitism into Labour’s code of conduct for members.

Protesters gathered at Labour’s head office in London ahead of the meeting, with some cheering Mr Willsman’s arrival, while others shouted “shame on you”.

The meeting came as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told LBC she would review a leaked internal Labour dossier obtained by the radio station detailing 45 cases of alleged anti-Semitism, amid claims that as many as 17 might require reporting to the police.

John McDonnell has backed the full IHRA examples of anti-Semitism (Yui Mok/PA)

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has become the most senior Labour figure to call for the party to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Mr McDonnell acknowledged the party should have moved more quickly to resolve a row which has dominated headlines over the summer and sparked warnings of a deep rift with Britain’s Jewish community.

The NEC will consider whether to reverse its decision to omit some examples of anti-Semitic behaviour in the definition from its code of conduct for party members.

Critics of the IHRA approach have claimed it could restrict their ability to criticise the Israeli government’s actions against Palestinians and protests are expected outside Labour’s London HQ urging the NEC to reject the examples.

On September 4, the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party will be discussing the adoption of ALL examples of...

Posted by Labour Against the Witchhunt on Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mr Willsman’s election to the NEC – one of a slate of nine supporters of Jeremy Corbyn to win posts on the body – led to further unease about the party’s response to anti-Semitism.

Amanda Bowman, vice president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Mr Willsman’s election following his “reprehensible comments” was “deeply concerning”.

She said the NEC must adopt the full IHRA definition and all its examples “and then begin taking firm disciplinary action against all those who commit anti-Semitic acts and bring the party into disrepute by denying the problem”.

Mr Willsman said his job on the NEC was to support his “friend for 41 years” Mr Corbyn – who he called “Jerry”.

He said critics were trying to undermine the Labour leader and “some MPs, elected by Labour voters, seem willing to help the rich and powerful”.

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