Veteran UK Labour lawmaker brands party leadership a 'force for antisemitism'

Jeremy Corbyn appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme The Andrew Marr Show

Senior Parliament member Frank Field has resigned his role as Labour whip, citing the party's leadership's anti-Semitism as the cause.

The veteran Labour MP is due to meet with chief whip Nick Brown later on Friday, and suggested in the morning that his resigning the whip could trigger a by-election in his constituency if he is cannot sit as an independent Labour MP.

He accused some members of the Birkenhead Constituency Labour Party of "thuggish conduct", and said it was governed by "a culture of intolerance, nastiness and intimidation".

In a letter to his constituents in the Liverpool Echo, Mr Field said he had resigned with "considerable sadness", but said he could not "lend any legitimacy to the most appalling culture".

In his resignation letter, Field said Labour is now "a force for anti-Semitism in British politics" as the leadership had failed to address anti-Jewish bigotry within the party. "I said I would think about it because it is insane to spend an hour with the chief whip and not think about what he said, but I didn't express any enthusiasm for that".

A Labour party spokesperson said: "Jeremy Corbyn thanks Frank Field for his service to the Labour party".

In A Strange, Eventful History, his intellectual history of the Labour Party, Edmund Dell chronicles the abject failure of economic socialism.

But, he added: "My wish to see a more inclusive debate in the Labour party could not have been more wide of the mark".

But Corbyn-supporting members of Labour have criticised Mr Field's decision.

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"Reports of bullying, intimidation and nastiness are rife on social media taken along with the drift in the Labour Party to the extreme left and its association with racist and anti-Semitic views this Corbynite Labour party must cut most moderate Labour members to the bone - Mr Field is right to call them out on this".

"There are members of the House of Lords who don't take the Labour whip". The issue alone compels me to resign the whip.

Mr Corbyn also stressed that people who hold anti-Semitic views "have no place in the Labour Party" and said people who use "anti-Semitic poison" are not his supporters, nor do they speak for him or the party.

Mr Field, who chairs the Commons work and pensions committee, has faced criticism from party members for his voting record on key Government Brexit legislation and last month lost a motion of no confidence in his local party.

Field said he plans to remain in Parliament as an independent and run again in the next election.

A number of Mr Field's Labour colleagues have praised him and expressed their own concerns about their party.

Deputy Leader Tom Watson said Field's resignation must be a "major wake-up call" for the party.

The latest firestorm to engulf the party followed the revelation last week of comments made by Corbyn in a 2013 speech at the Palestinian Return Centre in London, where he said of a group of British "Zionists": "They clearly have two problems. We can not afford to lose people of such weight and stature", he said.

"I wish to be the Labour party candidate at the next election and, if I am not, I shall stand as an independent Labour candidate".

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