‘Wake up call’: Veteran UK Labour Party lawmaker quits over anti-Semitism

A leading British lawmaker left the Labour Party on Thursday, deeming the party a “force for anti-Semitism.”

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

A veteran British lawmaker quit the Labour Party grouping in Parliament Thursday, saying the opposition party had become a “force for anti-Semitism.”

Frank Field quit with a letter to the party’s chief whip accusing the leadership of the left-of-center party of overseeing an “erosion of our core values.”

“Britain fought the Second World War to banish these views from our politics, but that superhuman effort and success is now under huge and sustained internal attack,” he wrote.

Field also complained of “thuggery” and “bullying and intimidation” in his local branch of the party.

Allegations of anti-Jewish prejudice within Labour have grown since veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader in 2015. Some in the party allege that Corbyn, a longtime critic of Israel, has allowed anti-Semitic abuse to go unchecked, while others have accused Corbyn himself of being an anti-Semite.

The issue has split the party, with some Corbyn supporters accusing opponents and right-wing media outlets of misrepresenting the leader’s views.

Field, 76, has sat in Parliament since 1979 and served as a minister in then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government, but has found himself at odds with Corbyn and his left-wing supporters. His support for Brexit has also put him at odds with many Labour colleagues.

Field said he plans to remain in Parliament as an independent.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said Field’s resignation was “a major wake up call. We cannot afford to lose people of such weight and stature.”

Field’s decision arrives just a few days after Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi of the UK, deemed Corbyn an anti-Semite in comments that were published on Tuesday in the New Statesman.

Sacks’ made the comments following a string of revelations regarding Corbyn’s statements about Israel and UK “Zionists,” in addition to incidents such as Corbyn’s presence at an event honoring the Munich massacre terrorists and his accusation that Israel committed “genocide” while speaking in front of a Hamas flag.

“We can only judge Jeremy Corbyn by his words and his actions,” said Sacks. “He has given support to racists, terrorists and dealers of hate who want to kill Jews and remove Israel from the map. When he implies that, however long they have lived here, Jews are not fully British, he is using the language of classic pre-war European anti-Semitism. When challenged with such facts, the evidence for which is before our eyes, first he denies, then he equivocates, then he obfuscates. This is low, dishonest and dangerous.”