A union boss has accused Labour MPs of “working overtime” to portray the party as a “morass of misogyny, anti-Semitism and bullying”.
Unite Leader Len Mccluskey took aim at “promiscuous critics” of leader Jeremy Corbyn, in comments likely to deepen the party’s anti-Semitism row.
Writing in the New Statesman magazine, Mr McCluskey accused MPs Chris Leslie, Neil Coyle, John Woodcock, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin of “polluting” Mr Corbyn’s bid to tackle the problem.
“I look with disgust at the behaviour of the Corbyn-hater MPs who join forces with the most reactionary elements of the media establishment and I understand why there is a growing demand for mandatory reselection,” he wrote.
“To watch as these so-called social democrats tried to demean and attack, in front of our enemy, a decent and honourable man who has fought racism and anti-Semitism all his life and who has breathed life and hope back into the hearts of millions, especially the young, made my stomach churn.
“To see Tory MPs cheer and applaud them was shameful.”
Mr Streeting responded: “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no abuse, intimidation or threats of deselection will prevent me from voicing the concerns of my Jewish constituents about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.”
Mr Coyle wrote on Twitter: “Jeremy says anti-Semitism must be tackled. Len claims it doesn’t exist. Undermining the leader and party efforts to tackle the problem.”
Mr Corbyn met leaders of the Jewish community on Tuesday, describing the meeting as “positive and constructive”.
But his efforts to rebuild trust appeared to fall on deaf ears – with leaders of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) accusing him of not backing up his words with actions.
Board of Deputies president Jonathan Arkush and JLC chair Jonathan Goldstein said “a deep cultural change” was required within the party in order to win back trust from the Jewish community.
A senior Labour spokesman said Mr Corbyn has been absolutely clear that “he will lead the drive to eradicate anti-Semitism from the party and will not tolerate it”.
He said Tuesday’s meeting with Jewish groups was “constructive” and that the Labour leader “regards it as completely understandable that leaders of the Jewish community want to see action and not just words”.
There are currently 90 cases of anti-Semitism being investigated by the party, making up around 0.02% of Labour’s membership of around 500,000, the spokesman added.
In the last three years a total of 300 complaints of anti-Semitism have been made, around half of which led to people being expelled from or leaving the party.
Earlier on Wednesday, dozens of Labour MPs marched with Jewish colleague Ruth Smeeth as she went to give evidence at the disciplinary hearing of a suspended activist accused of anti-Semitism.
They were met by a small group of counter-protesters who carried placards and chanted in support of Marc Wadsworth.
He was suspended by the party after accusing Ms Smeeth of “working hand-in-hand” with the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Wadsworth has told Sky News he did not know Ms Smeeth was Jewish when he made the comment.
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