Labour's general secretary accuses Tom Watson of 'undermining' anti-Semitism complaints process 1 year ago

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.

DURHAM, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn applauds as he sits with Labour General Secretary Jennie Formby and listens to speeches during the 134th Durham Miners' Gala on July 14, 2018 in Durham, England. Over two decades after the last pit closed in the Durham coalfield the Miners Gala or Big Meeting as it is known locally remains as popular as ever with over 200,000 people expected to attend this year. The gala forms part of the culture and heritage of the area and represents the communal values of the North East of England. The gala sees traditional colliery brass bands march through the city ahead of their respective pit banners before pausing to play outside the County Hotel building where union leaders, invited guests and dignitaries gather before then continuing to the racecourse area for a day of entertainment and speeches. Beginning in 1871 the gala is the biggest trade union event in Europe and is part of an annual celebration of socialism.  (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images) Jeremy Corbyn and Jennie Formby (Credit: Ian Forsyth)

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."

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26:  Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson listens as Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn addresses delegates on day four of the Labour Party conference at the Arena and Convention Centre on September 26, 2018 in Liverpool, England. In his closing speech to the conference the Labour leader will promise to "kickstart a green jobs revolution" and expand the provision of free childcare should Labour win power.  (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images) Tom Watson has been increasingly vocal about anti-Semitism in the Labour party (Credit: Leon Neal)

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."

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."