LABOUR’S deputy leader Tom Watson spoke of his shock at facing calls to resign for calling out antisemitism in Labour.
A barrage of tweets, using the hashtag #resignWatson, came after he said that Labour was facing a “vortex of eternal shame” unless it solved the crisis.
As the “Twitterstorm” emerged, he said: “It sometimes feels like people have been calling for me to stand down from day one, but I never, ever thought I’d be facing demands to #resignwatson for standing up for people who are facing prejudice and hate.”
MP Wes Streeting said: “Imagine demanding the resignation of our deputy leader because he’s called for meaningful action against racism.”
Leader Jeremy Corbyn tried to end the saga on Sunday with a video message insisting he was working to “drive antisemitism out of the party”.
He said: “I am sorry for the hurt that has been caused to many Jewish people. We have been too slow in processing disciplinary cases of, mostly, online antisemitic abuse by party members.
“We are acting to speed this process up. People who hold antisemitic views have no place in the Labour Party.”
He added: “Our party must never be a home for such people and never will be. People who use antisemitic poison need to understand: you do not do it in my name or the name of my party. You are not our supporters.
“And anyone who denies that this has surfaced within our party is clearly actually wrong and contributing to the problem.”
But, in a joint statement, Board of Deputies president Marie van der Zyl and Jonathan Goldstein, Jewish Leadership Council chairman, accused him of failing to acknowledge his own “problematic” history.
Meanwhile, 16 Jewish Labour supporters have claimed that Mr Corbyn has “nothing to apologise for”, and that anitsemitism in Labour is to distract from the Knesset passing the Jewish nation state law “making Israel officially an apartheid state”.
Signed by such luminaries as Tony Greenstein and expelled Jackie Walker, as well as anti-Zionist Professor Moshe Machover, the letter in The Guardian also states that there is a “distinct lack of any evidence” of antisemitism — despite Labour admitting there are hundreds of cases being dealt with.
It adds: “Jewish people are not living in fear of an ‘existential threat’ as some claim, nor do they suffer threats of deportation, deaths in custody, stop and search or economic discrimination such as black and Asian people experience.
“Jeremy Corbyn has nothing to apologise for and he should concentrate on the real task, winning a majority at the next election, and not be diverted by these bogus claims of antisemitism.”