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LABOUR suspended Chris Williamson today pending an investigation after he had said that the party had been “too apologetic” over claims of anti-semitism.
Today lunchtime a Labour spokesman said the Derby North MP had become the subject to an investigation because of “a pattern of behaviour” but had not been suspended.
Mr Williamson offered an apology but hours later the leftwinger was suspended following pressure from Labour figures such as deputy leader Tom Watson and former leader Ed Miliband.
A Labour spokesperson claimed Mr Williamson had made comments that were “deeply offensive and inappropriate” and of “downplaying the problem of anti-semitism.”
The row blew up after video footage emerged of the MP addressing a Momentum meeting in Sheffield in the wake of last week’s resignation of eight Labour MPs to join the Independent Group.
It shows him receiving an applause as he said that the party had “given too much ground” to its critics who had “demonised [it] as a racist, bigoted party.”
Condemning the suspension, Jewish Voice for Labour representative Mike Cushman said: “This is madness, he’s suspended for saying the party is doing much to combat anti-semitism and should stop apologising, and it’s the parties that have done nothing that have something to answer for.”
Mr Williamson said in his apology: “I reject racism ethically and morally. It has no place in the Labour Party or in our country.
“It pains me greatly, therefore, that anyone should believe that it is my intention to minimise the cancerous and pernicious nature of anti-semitism.
“I deeply regret, and apologise for, my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour Party has responded to the ongoing fight against anti-semitism inside of our party. I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-semitism.”
Morning Star editor Ben Chacko denounced the suspension. “The left needs to understand that unless we hang together we will hang separately.
“Chris Williamson is an outstanding Labour MP. The party and movement will be the poorer if MPs who couldn’t care less whether their party is elected succeed in turfing him out.”
Since the footage came to light, a screening of a documentary film called Witchhunt, which makers say explores the background to accusations of anti-semitism in Labour Party, has been cancelled.
The film by Jon Pullman, whicht has been praised by leading Jewish film-makers Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky, was due to be screened in the Commons on Monday with Mr Williamson’s assistance.
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