The Derby MP, who appeared on BBC Radio 4 less than 24 hours before the event, has appeared in footage giving a bizarre rant about allegations that led to the resignations of a flurry of MPs who also say they suffered abuse from members for speaking out on the issue. Mr Williamson, a staunch supporter of Mr Corbyn and the socialism movement, said: “The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. “I have got to say I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion we have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic.” He also told the same meeting he responded to the resignations of Labour MP Joan Ryan, who cited a culture of anti-semitism as the reason she threw in the towel last week, by singing 1980s Kool and the Gang hit ‘Celebration’.
The footage prompted a wave of criticism on social media, with BBC Radio 4 president Nick Robinson reminding Mr Williamson he had denied evidence of any anti-Semitism among Labour Party members.
The tweet said: “Hi @DerbyChrisW, you told me on @BBCr4today that you’d never seen anti-semitism in the Labour Party. Did you forget you’d agreed to screen a film in Parliament by a woman suspended from Labour for saying the Jews controlled the slave trade?”
This triggered more tweets from social media users, slamming the MP.
One, replying to Mr Robinson, said: “Of course he can’t remember. He really hasn’t covered himself in glory over the last week. What a clown. A great example of an intolerant man in an intolerant party.”
Another said: “In the words of Roald Dahl, “If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.” Just about sums Williamson up to a T.”
Another added: “The guy literally looks like a James Bond villain…. no idea why people listen to him.”
The speech follows the resignations of MPs such as Jewish politician Luciana Berger, who like Ms Ryan and Labour Councillor Jessica Brayne who also quit over the weekend, blamed anti-semitism for their departure from the party.
Ms Berger, with 10 other MPs, founded the Independent Group as a result of the claims and to campaign for a People’s Vote on Brexit.
The group blasted Mr Corbyn for failing to stop Brexit, though today it was announced he supported a second referendum on the matter.
Labour has been embroiled in a row over anti-semitism for some time, which began when Mr Corbyn himself shared a platform with activists who compared Israel to the Nazis during a Holocaust Memorial Day event he hosted in 2010.
The party recently adopted a new code of conduct in a bid to stomp out anti-semitism but critics have argued Labour have been too slow to respond to the crisis.