Peter Willsman, a member of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC), has been suspended after being recorded claiming that the “Israeli embassy” and an Israeli “agent” are “behind all this antisemitism against Jeremy.” The NEC presides over disciplinary cases.
Theo Usherwood, the Political Editor at radio station LBC, tweeted the recording of Mr Willsman speaking in January to Israeli author and journalist Tuvia Tenenbom who was in the UK to make a documentary about Brexit.
Last year, Mr Willsman was let off disciplinary charges following a tirade accusing Jewish “Trump fanatics” of “making up” antisemitism.
Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, refused to call for Willsman to be expelled then but accepted his apology, caveating it by saying that: “if he persists in those attitudes I think he should be standing down. But what I’m hoping is that he’s learnt a lesson.” Mr Willsman, within a couple of months, repeated his assertions that there was no antisemitism in the Party. No action was taken.
In a series of explosive comments in the recording, Mr Willsman said that: “One of these things about antisemitsm is that they’re using that to whip people up. They use anything. Any Lies. It’s all total lies and they just whip it up.”
He then said “off the record” that “It’s almost certain who is behind all this antisemitism against Jeremy. Almost certainly it was the Israeli Embassy. Because they caught somebody in the Labour Party. It turns out they were an agent in the Embassy.”
The accusation of Jews conspiring to subvert politics is one of the most well known antisemitic conspiracy theories. Under the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” is antisemitic.
Mr Willsman also claimed to have close relations with Jeremy Corbyn. Calling himself “Red Pete”, he boasted that: “They call me Corbyn’s enforcer. But I said I don’t want to be called Corbyn’s enforcer because enforcers ain’t got no sense of humour. I’m more like Corbyn’s protector, ‘cos he never looks after himself. He never defends his back. Because he’s not interested in himself, he just wants to change the world.” He added that “it’s me who has to stop people stabbing him in the back” and claimed: “I spend 10 hours a day working for Jeremy Bernard Corbyn. Voluntary, 10 hours a day.”
Mr Willsman also made a claim that: “Jeremy stuck up for me and told them to p*** off” when he was previously caught making antisemitic comments.
On Tuesday, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In recent months, eleven MPs have resigned from the Labour Party over antisemitism, along with a large number of MEPs, councillors and members.
Over 55,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office”.