13:00 UPDATE: Mohammad Yasin MP has got in touch to say that he isn’t due to speak at the event, and that “my attendance was advertised without my knowledge”. The piece has been edited accordingly.
Last month 70 Jewish rabbis, ranging from liberal to orthodox, sent a joint letter calling on the Labour Party to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in its entirety.
Shortly afterwards Peter Willsman, a member of Labour’s governing National Executive Committee (NEC), gave his response to a party meeting.
He stated: “Some of these people in the Jewish community support Trump – they are Trump fanatics and all the rest of it. So I am not going to be lectured to by Trump fanatics”.
Smearing UK Jewish religious leaders complaining about anti-Semitism as “Trump fanatics” quite rightly caused outrage (though not from Corbyn at the time who was present at the meeting but said nothing).
Pro-Corbyn campaign group Momentum had been supporting Willsman in his bid to get re-elected to Labour’s NEC. In response to his shocking comments they publicly withdrew their support.
And yet Willsman is due to address an event titled “How can we win Bedford” on 4 October hosted by Momentum Bedford (Articles 1 & 2).
The same branch posted on Facebook on 1 August that Willsman “said nothing wrong” (Article 3).
So either Momentum’s backing for Willsman hasn’t been fully curtailed or they can’t control their own branches. Either way it doesn’t look great.
Gianni Carofano, Conservative Candidate for Mayor of Bedford, told The Backbencher that:
“It is shocking that the local Momentum group are inviting a man condemned by the wider organisation for anti-Semitic comments to be a speaker at their event in Bedford. It is even more shocking that the Labour MP Mohammad Yasin would appear to be comfortable sharing a platform with a man who has admitted to making ‘deeply offensive’ comments towards British Jews. Hopefully, local Labour members who are opposed to anti-Semitism and racism will call out their local representatives and question why they are sharing a stage with Mr Willsman despite his recent comments about British Jews”.