Labour 'being demonised over anti-Semitism'

Labour MP faces party censure over antisemitism film

Chris Williamson says the Labour Party has been "too apologetic" over anti-Semitism and suggested that Labour's response to complaints had contributed to the party being "demonised".

In a clip published by the Yorkshire Post, the Derby North MP told a meeting hosted by grassroots group Momentum that the party had "given too much ground".

Mr Williamson also said he had celebrated the resignation of former Labour MP Joan Ryan, who defected to join the Independent Group of MPs last week.

In the video, recorded at a meeting in Sheffield, Mr Williamson said: "The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.

"I have got to say I think our party's response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion ... we have backed off on too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic."

Mr Williamson also said he had sung Celebration by Kool & The Gang after hearing of Ms Ryan's resignation.

Brexit
Joan Ryan was one of nine MPs who quit Labour in protest at Jeremy Corbyn's leadership (Katie Collins/PA)

She was one of nine MPs who quit in protest at Mr Corbyn's leadership last week, with his handling of anti-Semitism in the party among their central grievances.

During a visit to Derbyshire in January, Mr Corbyn said Mr Williamson was a "very good, very effective Labour MP".

Brexit
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said Chris Williamson is a 'very effective' MP who is 'not anit-Semitic in any way' (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The Labour leader told Derbyshire Live: "He's a very strong anti-racist campaigner. He is not anti-Semitic in any way."

Mr Williamson was first elected MP for Derby North in 2010, but was unseated in the 2015 general election.

He ran again in 2017, this time receiving a visit from Mr Corbyn during the general election campaign, and won.

Mr Williamson was later made a shadow fire and emergency services minister.

He left the post by mutual agreement six months later after commenting on policy outside his brief to suggest that council tax should be doubled for better-off homes.

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