Misquoted and misrepresented – NEC’s Pete Willsman

Pete Willsman. Huffington Post

JVL introduction

Jewish Labour Party veteran Walter Wolfgang, with 70 years membership to his name, has defended National Executive Committee member Peter Willsman against malicious charges of antisemitism. We publish Wolfgang’s statement urging party members to support Willsman in the current NEC elections.

Tom Watson and a host of others have piled in to demand that Willsman, long-standing secretary of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, should be disciplined and ousted from the party’s leading body, because of remarks he made during an NEC discussion about the Code of Conduct on anti-semitism. Willsman admits that he became angry and has apologised for failing to conduct himself “in a fully civil and respectful way.” But the attacks upon him continue, based on a leaked recording of the NEC meeting. We reproduce a detailed analysis from Skwawkbox showing how he has been misquoted and misreported.

Media have gleefully participated in Willsman’s public evisceration, never questioning the ethical credentials of whoever sent the illicit audio recording to the Jewish Chronicle. JVL’s Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi challenged the prevailing narrative in an interview on LBC on Tuesday afternoon. Read more below.

Walter Wolfgang. YouTube image



I came to Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany, with a strong and continuing commitment to Judaism, and still attend my synagogue regularly.  I have been a member of the Labour Party for 70 years. As a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee myself, I have served with Pete Willsman and know him to be a committed anti-racist and a strong supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. I am dismayed that Pete is under attack at the very time when the ballot for the NEC is taking place, and despite his deep and public apology. Pete Willsman is a staunch champion of party democracy. I will be voting for him, and urge Labour Party members to do likewise.

31 July 2018


An illicitly recorded audio file of discussions during the NEC’s meeting on July 17 was leaked to the Jewish Chronicle and published on Monday with an article that quotes Labour MP Luciana Berger expressing outrage at statements Willsman made in support of the NEC’s new code of conduct on antisemitism. Berger called for his suspension, saying that he had directed “venom and fury….at the British Jewish community,” that he accused the Jewish community of falsifying social media and being “Trump fanatics” and that he “denied the serious concerns of 68 rabbis.” 

Skwawkbox has listened in detail to the leaked recording, raising a number of questions. Do Willsman’s remarks justify Tom Watson calling him “a loud mouthed bully” on Twitter?  If so, why does Watson not challenge him during the meeting? How does Berger manage to turn a remark about some people in the Jewish community supporting Trump, into a generalised allegation that “the Jewish Community” are Trump fanatics? How does Willsman’s suggestion – borne out by many published examples – that some antisemitism allegations are faked, translate into the charge that “the Jewish community” are “falsifying social media”? How can Willsman be accused of “denying the serious concerns” of  rabbis who attacked Labour, when what he actually did was to ask for evidence of alleged “severe and widespread antisemitism in this party”?

Follow this link to read the Skwawkbox analysis in full.


In his interview with Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi of Jewish Voice for Labour, LBC’s Iain Dale demonstrates complete absence of interest in evidence contradicting the idea that Corbyn’s Labour Party is awash with antisemitism, of which Pete Willsman is merely the latest example.

Out of the blue, according to Dale, innocent MPs Hodge and Austin are bullied by being investigated for possible breaches of party rules. Dale is not concerned about the last two years during which hundreds of ordinary party members were summarily suspended, without any opportunity to answer the vague charges against them or even to know who their accusers were. He shows not a flicker of interest in the instant expulsion of Israeli-born Jewish professor Moshe Machover, or the summary suspension of Jewish Voice for Labour secretary Glyn Secker, both reinstated after a wave of protest at their  treatment. Dale is unmoved by warnings from Kenneth Stern, author of the first incarnation of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, that far from being a sacred text that may never be challenged, it has become a dangerous instrument for the suppression of free speech about Palestine. Dale’s response is to sneer at mention of Stern’s support for Zionism and then to assert that pointing to evidence contradicting the Labour=Jew-hater narrative is an insult to all Jews. 

Iain Dale is blasé about the fact that dealing with real antisemitism – hostility to Jews as Jews – in the Labour Party and elsewhere, is not served by attacking the most consistently anti-racist British political leader yet. 

The interview can be heard for the next seven days by following this link. Listen about 20 minutes into the programme. 







Comments (7)

  • George McManus says:

    Labour’s right wing members have a history of making illicit recordings of private meetings and leaking to hostile press. This not only brings the Party into disrepute but is a breach of human rights not to have comments recorded without a person’s permission.

    As a member of Labours National Policy Forum, I’ve been a victim on at least 2 occasions..

    In 2014 a meeting of Labour’s International Policy Commission, attended by Hilary Benn where I put the case opposing Trident was recorded and sent to the Daily Mail. In February 2018 a meeting of Labour’s National Policy Forum where Luciano Berger and Lucy Powell hurled abuse at the Chair was recorded.

    The right will stop at nothing to undermine Corbyn. They can’t be allowed to hound Willsman out of office

  • Antony R says:

    Really unprofessional behaviour by Iain Dale in his treatment of Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi.

  • Danny Nicol says:

    Enough is enough. We should bring formal complaints against the Party members making up the JLM leadership for anti-Semitism, for their campaign in favour of the IHRA examples which lump all us Jews together as Zionists.

    Perpetrating such a trope violates the Labour Party code on anti-Semitism, Clause 9 (b) ‘making mendacious….stereotypical allegations against Jews as such’.

    Go on, JVL, give us a model letter.

  • Dave says:

    Thanks but no thanks to listening to Iain Dale.

    I voted for Pete Willsman as soon as I heard his ‘outburst’. If only more senior Labour figures would get angry and start calling out this b/s before it’s too late. Corbyn apologising for hosting Hajo Meyer and the speaking tour was just dreadful.

  • John says:

    My fear is that the ‘cry wolf’ antisemitism claims will seriously undermine the genuine cry when justified.

  • Ian Kemp says:

    Of course it was orchestrated by the media they are supporting with out reporting the other side of the arguments This has been consistent in all areas of the media to accept the status quo . The people they drag up for interviews are usually mostly people or MPs with right wing attitudes . They rarely publish the alternatives..

  • david prowse says:

    I am sick of the continuous crap that the right wing of this party in its never ending attempt to oust Jeremy Corbyn, against the wishes of the membership. Let them P— O– to the tory or LD were they belong. For 2 long they have maintained a status quo, in government that justifies there label as pink tories and left the working class without representation, so bugger off !

Comments are now closed.