An MP who was summonsed by her local party to explain her support of a rally against anti-Semitism in Labour, has vowed to continue standing up against the scourge after her efforts to explain her presence were shouted down.
Thangam Debbonaire, the MP for Bristol West, walked out of a meeting last Thursday, nearly two weeks after she joined around 40 colleagues at the Enough is Enough demonstration organised by the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council.
While one detractor said the rally brought Labour into “disrepute” and another described the criticism of Jeremy Corbyn as “disgusting”, a motion brought by her opponents was defeated by 108 votes to 84. That motion called for affiliating with Jewish Voice for Labour.
And while it opposed anti-Semitism, it implicitly condemned the local MP by drawing attention to the presence at the demo of Norman Tebbit and Ian Paisley Jr of the DUP.
In a statement, Debbonaire said: “There was good turnout at the meeting, and most people on all sides of the debate expressed their opinions respectfully. I was very pleased to see that the members voted to reject the proposed motion on anti-Semitism. It was unfit for purpose because it failed to take responsibility for the problem. Also, the motion did not demonstrate a zero-tolerance approach to all examples of anti-Semitism, something which Jeremy Corbyn, Jennie Formby and many others at the top of the Labour Party rightly say is long overdue.
“I was finally given a chance to present my MP’s report and answer questions about it at the very end of the meeting. Unfortunately, my attempt to explain my attendance at the rally was shouted down and no attempt was made to stop this. I therefore left the meeting as it was unproductive.”
While pointing out that Corbyn backed the right of MPs to attend the demo, she added: “I have no problem being held to account – but this must be in an environment where I can give my response. I will continue to stand up to anti-Semitism, prejudice and inequality in all its forms. In Westminster, my focus is on representing the people of Bristol West. As a whip, I support Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour front bench team and back bench MPs as we challenge the Conservatives and campaign for a Labour government.”