The party activist who berated a Jewish Labour MP in the latest episode in Labour’s internal turmoil claims: “I am an ally of the Jewish people.”
Marc Wadsworth, who was a prominent Labour Party activist during the early 1980s, said that he did not know that the Labour Ruth Smeeth is a Jew when he attacked her by name at the launch of an investigation into anti-semitism.
The incident flared up as Jeremy Corbyn presented the results of an internal inquiry into alleged anti-semitism in the party.
Mr Wadsworth was handing out a newsletter which accused Labour MPs who have expressed no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn of being “self-indulgent” and “divisive.” It urged that should be deselected and replaced with “socialists who will fight for the ordinary people.”
The newsletter named two of Mr Corbyn’s critics, Angela Eagle and Gloria de Piero, accusing them of ignoring opinion in their constituency parties.
Before the launch, there was a brief exchange between Mr Wadsworth and Ruth Smeeth, who identified herself as one of the dozens of MPs who have resigned their positions on Labour’s front bench after losing confidence in Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
During the launch, a Daily Telegraph journalist, Kate McCann, asked Mr Corbyn what he thought about a call for deselection being distributed at the event.
Mr Wadsworth said afterwards: “Jeremy said something flim-flammy that he didn’t support abuse and people must be respectful. I thought he could have been more robust than that, and said that people have strong views and it’s about freedom of speech – and what about the Telegraph working hand in glove with that Labour MP Ruth Smeeth. That’s the sort of company they’re keeping, these MPs.
“I didn’t have a clue that Ruth Smeeth is Jewish. I’ve never been called anti-semitic in my life . I’ve fought against anti-semitism and racism. During the anti-apartheid struggle, I fought alongside the Jewish Board of Deputies. The Jewish people have an ally in me.”
Mr Wadsworth, who runs a website the-latest.com, was a prominent party activist in the early 1980s, when there were no black or Asians in the House of Commons. He was an organiser of the Black Sections, who campaigned for Labour to impose all-black shortlists when candidates were being chosen in safe seats with large ethnic minority populations.
He resigned from the Labour Party in protest against the Iraq War, but rejoined a month ago. He denies that he is a member of the pro-Corbyn pressure group Momentum.