President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Marie van der Zyl has said Jeremy Corbyn is “not a credible anti-racist”.
She called on him to take urgent action on anti-Semitism after a tape recording emerged of Peter Willsman, a member of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), calling Jewish people ‘Trump fanatics’.
“Virtually every single day, we’re getting another story about someone else who is a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn making comments that most right-thinking people would regard as anti-Semitic, and then we’re told it’s all smears made up by Russian bots who want to damage the party, then we get a tape recording, then we get an apology. How damaging is this to the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn himself?” asked Julia Hartley-Brewer on the talkRADIO breakfast show.
“I’ve got to say this is a very sad state of affairs,” replied van der Zyl.
'Willsman should be expelled'
“Labour’s reputation as an anti-racist party continues to collapse and is really in tatters. I was disgusted to hear Peter Willsman’s rant against the Jewish community.
“How can a modern political party conduct itself in this way? Peter Willsman should clearly be expelled.”
Willsman has apologised for his comments and said that they were not “accurately reported”.
"I deeply apologise for any offence caused to those present and those to whom my remarks were reported,” he told the BBC.
"Not all of what I said has been accurately reported.
"But I accept that what I did say, and the way I said it, fell short of the requirement, which I accept, for discussions of contentious issues to be conducted in a fully civil and respectful way."
- Read more: Peter Willsman refuses to say whether he'll stand down from the Labour Party
- Read more: Jewish Chronicle editor: 'The longer people stay in Labour, the longer they're supporting anti-Semitism'
But van der Zyl said Corbyn should take more action to tackle racism.
“The other MPs that have been trying to call out anti-Semitism - Ian Austin, Margaret Hodge - they are the ones that are being victimised, subject to disciplinary action and Labour is going into a deep abyss,” she said.
“Jeremy Corbyn needs to lead the Labour party out of this urgently so he can return Labour to being an anti-racist party.”
'Labour spiralling into collapse'
Dame Hodge was subjected to anti-Semitic abuse online after calling Corbyn racist, and the party is now investigating 252 people, some of whom are party members.
Austin is being investigated by the party after allegedly shouting during a disagreement on Labour’s definition of anti-Semitism.
He denies “screaming abuse”.
Hartley-Brewer asked if Corbyn himself was “part of the problem”.
“He’s the democratically elected leader, I can’t tell you what’s in his heart, but I can tell you he’s not a credible anti-racist,” said van der Zyl.
“How can you sit there, stand by, let all these terrible things happen, change racism definitions to suit your purposes and call yourself an anti-racist?”
Corbyn should take action “tomorrow morning, today”, she added.
“How much longer can people hear this nonsense? Labour is spiralling into disarray and collapse.”