LABOUR members in East Renfrewshire have written to local Jewish groups to apologise over anti-Semitism in the wider party.

In an astonishing letter to the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council, the constituency Labour Party say they feel “shame” about the row that has dominated Labour politics recently.

The missive, co-signed by Jim Fletcher, the Labour Provost in East Renfrewshire Council, also says the problem is widespread throughout the party. It said: “We do not believe that anti-Semitism exists only in pockets, nor that it is a matter of a few bad apples, within the party. We believe that it is present to an unacceptable extent in the party at all levels. We are sorry for this.”

East Renfrewshire is home to around 41 per cent of Scotland’s Jewish population.

The local party acknowledged that anti-Semitism was about “more than clearly expressed hatred of Jews”.

They wrote: “We know that we must also focus our attention on more insidious types of anti-Semitism such as those found in conspiracy theories, and the automatic ascribing of responsibility for the policies of particular Israeli Governments to all Jewish people.

“We know that for too long too many party members have been involved in defending the indefensible.”

It came as a senior member of the UK party was forced to quit after she defended Peterborough council candidate, Alan Bull, who was suspended by Labour last week after being linked to anti-Semitic social media posts, including an article headlined, “International Red Cross report confirms the Holocaust of 6m Jews is a hoax”, illustrated with a photograph of the gates of Auschwitz.

In an email obtained by the Daily Mail, Christine Shawcroft, who headed up Labour’s ruling NEC’s quasi-judicial Disputes Panel, said Bull’s suspension should be lifted, and said he should be allowed to stand in the local elections due in May.

Speaking to the BBC’s Today programme yesterday morning, Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell said anti-Semitism would be eradicated from Labour: “We will deal with it firmly and severely.”