Labour leadership candidate Jess Phillips has called for a change in the party’s culture after a member claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a local meeting.
Phillips responded after Alex Holmes, vice-chairman of the party’s Ilford South branch in east London, tweeted about a meeting he described as the worst he had ever attended.
Holmes said he and another member were called “agents of a foreign power” after speaking against a motion attacking the Board of Deputies of British Jews after it published “10 pledges” it said would end Labour’s problems with antisemitism, which were signed by leadership candidates including Rebecca Long-Bailey and Sir Keir Starmer.
“The proposers used multiple antisemitic tropes to make their point that the Board of Deputies is a ‘Tory organisation’ ‘illegally interfering in the Labour leadership contest,” Mr Holmes tweeted of the meeting.
“Racists of any kind have no place anywhere near the Labour party, nor any other mainstream political party.”
Human rights barrister Adam Wagner shared Holmes’ posts, calling them “an example of how difficult it will be for any new leader to dislodge the antisemitic culture from Labour”.
Phillips responded: “Today I will seek to speak to Alex about what happened.
“Adam is right, this will not be easily solved but we must change culture that accepts without shame and embarrassment calling Jewish orgs, Jewish people and their allies ‘agents of a foreign power’. It’s racism.”
Following Holmes’ tweets, the Board of Deputies responded: “We are profoundly saddened to see yet another example of the hatred which has infested parts of Labour.
“Our sympathies are with those decent, upstanding members of the party who are determined to fight such insidious bigotry.”
The local MP Sam Tarry tweeted on Tuesday he spoke to CLP members about the meeting, “including the two Jewish members who proposed the motion.”
“There are conflicting accounts of what happened and what was said. The allegations are very serious and should be looked at carefully. If any allegation is upheld, there should be absolutely zero tolerance,” he wrote.
The Labour Party has not yet responded to a request for comment by the PA news agency.
Phillips is one of five candidates through to the second round of the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
On Monday she told LBC she was “quite tempted” to quit Labour over its handling of allegations of antisemitism.
The Birmingham Yardley MP said she “wobbled the most” when she saw a BBC Panorama investigation which claimed senior figures in the party had interfered in antisemitism investigations.