A prominent Labour MP has supported the adoption of a new definition of anti-Semitism at a meeting of Redbridge Council while slamming his own party’s record in tackling Jew hatred.
Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, said Labour had dealt with instances of anti-Semitism in the party “abysmally,” adding that it was “with some humility” that he supported Thursday night’s motion to adopt the new working definition from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
Streeting has been at odds with another Labour MP over anti-Semitism, and continued his war of words with Derby North’s Chris Williamson, who was recently dropped from the party’s front bench.
Williamson has previously criticised Streeting and others of “weaponising” anti-Semitism, after several instances of historical comments by members and senior representatives were unearthed on social media.
As Redbridge Council unanimously adopted the IHRA definition – which has been criticised by leading lawyers as being vague, confusing and a threat to free speech – Streeting said it was the least his party could do.
“It is with some humility that I support this motion, given the abysmal way in which my own party has tackled – or indeed failed to tackle – anti-Semitism within our own party,” he said. “It has led to a crisis of confidence in the Labour Party by people who have been our lifelong supporters.”
He added: “We say we have zero-tolerance to anti-Semitism, yet hundreds of reported cases remain unaddressed. People like Ken Livingstone have been allowed to abuse the history of the Holocaust to cause gratuitous offence and remain in Labour”
In reference to Williamson, he said: “Those of us who call out anti-Semitism are accused of ‘weaponising’ it…Bystanders are complicit by their silence, which is why I will continue to speak up.”