Out­rage over of­fi­cial’s claim anti-semitism is ‘stirred up’

The Herald - - POLITICS - ALIS­TAIR GRANT PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

A SE­NIOR Labour of­fi­cial has sparked out­rage af­ter claim­ing the row over anti-semitism in the party is be­ing “stirred up” to at­tack UK leader Jeremy Cor­byn.

Chris­tine Shawcroft was forced to stand down as chair­woman of Labour’s dis­putes panel af­ter ques­tion­ing the sus­pen­sion of a coun­cil can­di­date ac­cused of be­ing a Holo­caust de­nier.

But in a post on Face­book, she in­sisted the whole row was be­ing used as an ex­cuse to at­tack Mr Cor­byn.

She wrote: “In case any­one has been mis­led by the press cov­er­age, I am not a Holo­caust de­nier and I would not sup­port a Holo­caust de­nier.

“I have been try­ing to sup­port mem­bers who have been af­fected by all the shenani­gans around coun­cil se­lec­tions, and thought this case was just another one of those.

“I had not seen the ap­palling and ab­hor­rent post which was shared, and if I had seen it I would not have sent the sup­port­ive email.

“As soon as I saw it I told the mem­ber that he should have anti-semitism train­ing.”

Ms Shawcroft said it was “en­tirely right” that she had quit her role chair­ing the dis­putes panel.

She added: “This whole row is be­ing stirred up to at­tack Jeremy, as we all know. That some­one who has spent his whole life fight­ing racism in all its forms should find him­self be­ing ac­cused of not do­ing enough to counter it, ab­so­lutely beg­gars be­lief.”

Ms Shawcroft re­signed ear­lier this week af­ter the email in which she ques­tioned the sus­pen­sion of Peter­bor­ough coun­cil can­di­date Alan Bull was made pub­lic.

Some 39 MPS and peers have since signed an open let­ter call­ing for her to be sus­pended from the party’s Na­tional Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee (NEC). It comes amid a wider row over anti-semitism in the UK Labour Party, with Mr Cor­byn ex­press­ing his “sin­cere re­gret” af­ter it emerged he had ques­tioned the re­moval of a bla­tantly anti-semitic mu­ral in London.

Mr Cor­byn has said he hopes Passover will mark a move to­wards closer re­la­tions with the Jewish com­mu­nity and in­sisted he is an “ally” in the fight against anti-semitism.

But a Jewish Labour peer said the party leader had “en­cour­aged and en­dorsed” anti-semites. Lord Win­ston said hos­til­ity to Jews has “in­fected the Labour Party so it’s be­come en­demic”.

Labour MP Siob­hain Mc­don­agh, lead sig­na­tory of the let­ter call­ing for Ms Shawcroft to be re­moved from the NEC, said the group felt “very strongly” about the is­sue.

Mem­bers of Scot­land’s East­wood con­stituency branch have writ­ten an open let­ter to Jewish lead­ers ex­press­ing their “deep sense of shame” over the row.

Blair Mc­dougall, who stood as the party’s lo­cal can­di­date at the last Gen­eral Elec­tion, said the move was to “ex­press sol­i­dar­ity to the com­mu­nity at a time when they are re­ally wor­ried to see a party that’s tra­di­tion­ally been an ally of anti-racism find­ing it­self in this sit­u­a­tion”.

He said “an enor­mous amount of hurt” had been caused by how slowly Labour had dealt with the prob­lem.

In a later Face­book post, Ms Shawcroft is­sued a new state­ment re­mov­ing the com­ments about the row be­ing stirred up.

This whole row is be­ing stirred up to at­tack Jeremy Cor­byn

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