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PRESSURE is mounting on Tom Watson to resign as Labour’s deputy leader after senior figures condemned his attacks on the party’s general secretary Jennie Formby.
Shadow cabinet ministers and members of the party’s governing national executive committee (NEC) have lined up to condemn Mr Watson for demanding that Ms Formby hand over cases on anti-semitism to him following the showing of a Panomara investigation on anti-semitism in Labour.
In response, Ms Formby said that Mr Watson was “denigrating” the progress that had been made in purging Labour of anti-semites.
In a letter to him, she said: “Traducing my reputation and publicly attacking me when you know I am undergoing chemotherapy and am unable to respond in the media, is another example of the inappropriate way in which you choose to discuss this issue.”
It is public knowledge that Ms Formby is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.
She also accused Mr Watson of “choosing to ignore the steps” taken by party officials in combating anti-semitism, and added: “By choosing to ignore the steps taken by this party, and commenting so uncritically about the Panorama programme, you are complicit in creating a perception that anti-semitism is more prevalent in the Labour Party than wider society.
“This is deeply irresponsible for the deputy leader of a party which seeks to be in government, and risks exacerbating the fear that Jewish communities will feel.”
NEC member Claudia Webbe tweeted at him: “You engaged in public attacks on the Labour Party’s general secretary despite your clear knowledge she is receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
“This is not behaviour behaviour befitting of the Office of Deputy Leader. You should consider your position?”
Ms Webbe’s criticism was retweeted without comment by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who also tweeted: “Tom Watson knows perfectly well that he cannot make ‘demands’ of Jennie Formby.
“She is only answerable to [Labour’s] NEC.
“And very wrong to imply that she is dealing with this matter with anything less than her usual professionalism.”
Shadow chancellor John McDonnell added that he “cannot understand why” Mr Watson was engaging in media attacks on Ms Formby, and socialist MPs such as Dan Carden, Emma Dent Coad and Danielle Rowley have expressed solidarity with her.
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