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Centrist MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting’s week has resulted in him being accused of having ‘questions to answer‘ about a ‘worrying pattern of behaviour‘.
Streeting has clashed twice with Labour front-bencher Diane Abbott – and has sent an email inviting colleagues and others to join him next week in a show of strength against a black Labour activist and ‘Windrush child’.
Diane Abbott 1
Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott has suffered the most vile abuse – receiving almost half of all abuse received by female MPs in the run-up to the General Election. She has spoken movingly of the terrible hate-messages she receives on a daily basis.
On Tuesday, she had just spoken in a parliamentary debate – about personal abuse she has received, the seriousness with which Labour treats the issue of antisemitism and the measures the party is taking to combat it. Ms Abbott also made a number of points that the Haredi Jewish community had asked her to raise – and for which the community praised her later.
As Home Secretary Amber Rudd began to respond, Streeting made an intervention – to side against his own party – and against Abbott’s representations on behalf of the Jewish community in her constituency.
Diane Abbott 2
Mr Streeting wasn’t finished. In a parliamentary corridor, Streeting is alleged to have literally shouted in Ms Abbott’s face, standing toe to toe with her and screaming ‘not my party!’, in front of a number of onlookers.
Witnesses described Streeting’s behaviour as so intimidating that he had to be physically steered away from the Labour front-bencher.
Marc Wadsworth is a veteran black Labour activist. He featured in the BBC’s documentary about Stephen Lawrence, “Stephen, the murder that changed a nation” this week, when he was seen introducing Stephen’s mother Doreen to the late South African president Nelson Mandela.
Wadsworth was suspended by the party last year after challenging Labour MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch of the Chakrabarti report, who then walked out of the meeting.
Ms Smeeth quoted Wadsworth as accusing her of a ‘media conspiracy‘, a well-known antisemitic trope, but video evidence showed that Wadsworth had not said that.
His exact words were:
I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP so you can see who is working hand in hand. If you look around this room, how many African, Caribbean and Asian people are there? We need to get our house in order, don’t we?
Wadsworth’s complaint was about the lack of representation for BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) people – an issue he continues to fight for in spite of his suspension, as he was instrumental in the recent launch of the Grassroots Black Left group.
Wadsworth was initially summarily expelled from the Labour Party but reinstated and suspended after his lawyers wrote to Labour’s compliance unit pointing out that it had acted unlawfully and not in accordance with the party’s rules.
Neither the expulsion letter nor the suspension notification mentioned allegations of antisemitism – that charge was added over six months later, in January 2017.
Since then, he has remained suspended – in spite of a public letter of support printed in the Guardian from twelve prominent supporters including black and Jewish activists – and Wadsworth has felt so severely attacked that he felt compelled to crowdfund to have full legal representation at his disciplinary hearing next week.
In the same week as his issues with Diane Abbott, Wes Streeting sent the following message to parliamentary colleagues:
Apologies for the impersonal message, but I wonder if I can enlist you to provide some practical moral support for our friend and colleague Ruth Smeeth next Wednesday morning (25th April)?
She is giving evidence against Mark Wadsworth – the guy who abused her at the antisemitism inquiry launch – and we expect there to be a protest outside against her.
To give Ruth some moral support and solidarity, I am assembling a group of Labour MPs and Peers in Westminster Hall at 940am. We will then walk with Ruth to Church House nearby. We won’t be allowed in with her, but I can’t tell you how much a strong turnout will mean to her – and how much better it would be if we outnumber the protesters.
So, if you can make it let me know by email or text.
Wednesday 25th April
Thanks for your support,
Readers will judge for themselves whether the video above of Wadsworth’s challenge to Ms Smeeth constitutes ‘abuse’.
But while it is clear that no abuse of Ms Smeeth en route to the hearing can be condoned, Streeting’s email also represents an attempt to counter demonstrations in support of a suspended black activist’s attempt to clear his name of allegations he insists are unfounded.
Wadsworth told the SKWAWKBOX:
It’s ironic that in this week of media attention on the Tories’ abuse of the Windrush generation, I find Wes trying to organise a parliamentary protest against me, in spite of the evidence.
My dad came to this country from Jamaica at his own expense during World War Two to join the RAF to fight against the nazis. He went back in 1946 but then came back to the UK on the Windrush in 1948 – I’m a Windrush child.
Given his two or three tweets this week condemning the government’s treatment of the Windrush generation, I’d have hoped Wes would be supporting a Windrush descendant who’s fighting for the representation of black and Asian people in the Labour Party, but it seems that’s not going to happen.
Taken together with his clashes with Diane Abbott this week, it represents a worrying pattern of behaviour and Wes has questions to answer.
The SKWAWKBOX contacted Mr Streeting for comment. At the time of publication, he had not responded.
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