Frank Field’s resignation of the Labour Party whip proves the party has an endemic anti-Semitism problem, according to a community charity fighting Jew-hatred.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism has responded to the veteran MP’s resignation, as being further evidence the Labour Party had become “infested with antisemitism.”
Gideon Falter, chairman of CAA, said: “It is very sad that after almost 40 years as a Labour MP, Frank Field felt morally compelled to resign the Labour whip because the party that was fiercely anti-racist when he joined it has now become infested with anti-Semitism.
“The indications are that others may now follow where Frank Field has led.”
Mr Field made the decision to resign the whip citing the ongoing antisemitism row and a “culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation” within the party.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, he said his resignation of was a “plea for help, for urgency, for action” on antisemitism and was not a “campaign to undermine Jeremy Corbyn”.
“I’ve spoken to nobody about trying to organise other people following me, it’s just a decision that I’ve come to.”
Meanwhile, Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, said it should serve as a “major wake up call”. In a statement, he sad Field’s departure was a “serious loss”, and that he “deeply regret[s] Frank’s decision. It reflects both the deep divisions in the party and the sense of drift engulfing us.”
“It is a major wake up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature.”
Tory chairman Brandon Lewis called on other Labour MPs to follow Field’s lead, saying the move was a “damning indictment of Jeremy Corbyn’s total inability to take action against bullying and antisemitic racism within Labour.”
Since resigning, the Labour veteran has been told to fight a by-election in the constituency in which he has served as the MP for, Birkenhead, for almost 40 years.
This comes after said in an explosive letter to chief whip Nick Brown that Labour was “increasingly seen as a racist party” and accused the leadership of overseeing the “erosion of our core values.”
Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon called on Mr Field to fight a by-election, tweeting: “Politicians who are elected as Labour MPs by their constituents and who then leave the Labour Party should do the right and respectful thing and call a by-election straight away.
“They should ask for their constituents’ consent to continue to represent them on a different basis.”
Labour MP Wes Streeting (Ilford North) raised concern Mr Field “won’t be the last” to resign.
He said: “Antisemitism and the toxic political culture in the Labour Party are issues that need to be immediately addressed by the Labour leadership if they’re to stop this becoming a full-scale existential crisis of the Labour Party.
“I’ve made very clear that I’m not about to leave the Labour Party because of these people, but I’m afraid Frank Field isn’t the first Labour MP to quit and at this rate he won’t be the last.
“It would be an absolute tragedy if the Labour Party were to split, but we should be in no doubt that this is the biggest crisis facing the party since 1981.”
Labour sources have since said that Field’s wish to serve as an Independent MP while remaining a member of the party is “not possible”.
Under the Parliamentary Labour Party standing orders, which governs MPs, anyone who takes such action will usually get a letter asking them to retake the party whip within 14 days or face expulsion.
Mr Field is understood to be meeting the chief whip on Friday to discuss the matter further.