Peter Willsman re-elected to Labour's NEC after antisemitism allegations

Peter Willsman re-elected to Labour's NEC after antisemitism allegations

Monday, September 3, 2018

Labour's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) elected its constituency party representatives today, with all members of the so-called "JC9", a nine-strong band or Corbyn supporters, elected.

Among those elected to the nine NEC seats for constituency party representatives was Peter Willsman, who lost the support of the influential Momentum movement over allegedly anti-Semitic statements.

Labour faced pressure to suspend Willsman in July after he made comments referring to some Jewish people as "Trump fanatics".

Willsman said he "deeply apologised" for any offence caused by the comments, but added that not all of what he said had been "accurately reported".

talkRADIO confronted Mr Willsman shortly after the comments became public and asked him whether he planned to withdraw from the 'Corbyn 9' slate of hard left candidates.

Corbyn allies including Owen Jones and other prominent online supporters have urged him to stand down.

Watch: Peter Willsman refuses to answer questions over his comments

talkRADIO's political editor Ross Kempsell asked Willsman: "Do you plan to withdraw as a candidate for the NEC?"

Mr Willsman refused to answer any questions and instead flagged down a bus, saying "thank you" to its driver.


'Institutional antisemitism'

Reactions to Willsman's election were mixed. Matt Reay, a Labour councillor in Corby, tweeted: "... those who voted for Peter Willsman after his comments were made public: shame on you."

The Newham branch of Momentum tweeted: "Full slate elected to NEC including Peter Willsman. Watch out!! The tantrums are going to get deafening and the mudslinging dirtier."

"How can @UKLabour claim to be taking anti-semitism seriously if grassroots party members have just elected Peter Willsman to our NEC?" medical student and Labour Party member Stephen Naulls asked.

The Jewish Labour Movement told talkRADIO "it appears to be one rule for friends of Jeremy and one rule for others. Others remain under investigation while Willsman faces no further action for insulting community Rabbis representing hundreds of thousands of British Jews", while centre-left group Progress said the re-election showed "institutional antisemitism in the party and the real need for action. However, with Willsman at the top table that is less likely to happen".


Meeting on antisemitism

On Tuesday, the NEC will meet to discuss the party's code of conduct on antisemitism. 

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the party should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition in full, telling BBC Radio Kent: "I'm hoping what will happen is exactly what people are saying - an acceptance of the IHRA definition and examples, that's what people are pressing for.

"But also to ensure - exactly as Rabbi Sacks said yesterday - that there's freedom of speech so people are free to criticise Israel and its policies, free to advocate the rights of the Palestinians, but at the same time make sure it's done in language that's acceptable."