Labour's general secretary accuses Tom Watson of 'undermining' anti-Semitism complaints process
'It looks like the deputy leader gets a stronger telling off than racists'
Labour's general secretary Jennie Formby has rebuked deputy leader of the party Tom Watson for intervening in a growing storm over anti-Semitism.
Watson had called for complaints about anti-Semitism in the party to be sent through his office in order to"log and monitor" and "properly assess" the problem.
In response, Formby sent a letter to all Labour MPs and peers attacking the deputy leader, saying he was "undermining" the complaints process.
Earlier this week, Watson intervened in the investigation into Chris Williamson. Williamson, the MP for Derby North, was filmed telling a Momentum meeting the party had "given too much ground" to criticism of its approach to anti-Semitism and was being "too apologetic."
Initially Williamson was investigated but not suspended from the party. Both Watson and prime minister Theresa May said the MP should be suspended immediately - eventually he was.
Watson has also said he sent 50 reported cases of anti-Semitism in Labour to Jeremy Corbyn that required his "personal lead."
Formby said it was "absolutely inappropriate for you to set up a vague parallel complaints monitoring system".
"You will undermine the work that my staff and I are doing and will confuse and pollute the existing formal process, compromising it and slowing it down."
In response, an unnamed MP told Sky News: "It looks like the deputy leader gets a stronger telling off than racists."
Tom Watson said: "Too often those who have suffered antisemitic abuse have not heard anything about the outcome of their complaint.
"It is my responsibility as deputy leader of the Labour Party to ensure people have confidence in our complaints system and our ability to deal transparently with the scourge of antisemitism.
"I will continue to do everything I can to achieve that."
Tom Watson touched on the mood of the country with his closing remarks of the no confidence motion.
It is a shame the Tories didn’t listen. pic.twitter.com/Rhx7ReuuxW
— PoliticsJOE (@PoliticsJOE_UK) January 16, 2019
Two weeks ago, eight MPs splintered from Labour to form the Independent Group citing anti-Semitism in the party.
Jewish MP Luciana Berger said the party was "institutionally anti-Semitic" when she quit. Watson said Berger had been "bullied out of the party by a small number of racist thugs."