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Statement from Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party

The following is the statement received from Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party when he cancelled his attendance with a few hours notice for the panel discussion “Anti-Semitism of the Left – A Labour Party Problem?”:

STATEMENT 
 
I’m sorry I cannot be with you. 
 
As Deputy Leader I was asked to attend an event in place of Jeremy Corbyn which led to my weekend childcare commitments having to be rearranged for today. 
 
Even though I’m unable to be with you I wanted to send you an unequivocal statement of support. 
 
The British Jewish community is vibrant, integrated, positive and contributes a huge amount to this country. 
 
For me, as a British politician, it’s profoundly troubling to see  incidents of anti-semitism on the rise in our country, which has a long history of tolerance. And to see Anti-Semitism taking place in my party, the Labour Party, is deeply disturbing. 
 
Working together we can and will root out anti-Semitism. I  want to work with the Jewish community and hear about your own experiences and I will come to Manchester as soon as possible so I can talk to you in person.  
 
I’ve said this before, but it’s important to reiterate, I am ashamed of the recent cases of antisemitism in my party. I’m working with the Jewish Labour Movement and members of the Jewish community to put a stop to this and ensure that racists and antisemites have no place in British politics. Together with many colleagues I am backing the Jewish Labour Movement proposals for tougher rules on this. 
 
As a Member of Parliament and deputy leader of the Labour Party, I will fight to ensure that Britain’s Jews always feel safe in this country and in my party and that the role they play in British life is acknowledged and celebrated. 
 
I will fight to ensure that Zionism is not used as a term of abuse.  Or as a code word for Jews.  I will fight to ensure that the right to Jewish national self-determination is preserved and respected.  Jews are the target of antisemitism – but I will fight to ensure that are not left to oppose it alone.  I am committed to that fight. 
Tom

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