Campaign Against Antisemitism applauds Labour Party councillors in Bassetlaw after they apologised for ‘liking’ a fellow councillor’s Facebook post which compared the Conservative Party to Adolf Hitler’s SS.
The SS, the abbreviation of Schutzstaffel, was the leading paramilitary organisation under Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party.
Ian Ampleford, a Momentum activist, shared a Facebook post explaining that he had been banned from a Facebook group because he “made an innocent post comparing the Tories to the SS”. He added sarcastically: “I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to anyone who voted for a German military organisation at the last general election.”
It is understood that Mr Ampleford’s original message, leading to his ban from the group, stated that his SS grandfather “would be proud of what the Tories have done to Britain”. This post was reportedly “liked” by Claire Plevin, a councillor for the ward of East Retford North.
Following this, East Retford West councillor, Jim Anderson, added to the inflammatory comparison with a post of his own, in which he stated that he was not surprised that Mr Ampleford had been “blackshirted”. He added: “Surely most self respecting SS thinkers would be appalled at being linked in such a way.” This post was then “liked” by Cllr Clarkson, the current Mayor of Retford.
Campaign Against Antisemitism called on the councillors to apologise. A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism told the Daily Express: “There is no reasonable basis for this offensive compariason. Such trivial equations of today’s politics with the darkest period in human history diminish the meaning and memory of the Holocaust. This is the opposite of the example politicians are supposed to be setting, both about Holocaust education and how to conduct public debate. Labour councillors must apologise.”
All three councillors were criticised by their Labour colleagues and fellow councillors, and were reportedly approached for comment by the media.
Cllr Clarkson said: “I would like to make an unreserved apology. I hold my hands up for innocently and naively liking a post by Jim Anderson as I was flicking through Facebook. I did not read the actual post, so did not know the context. I was merely liking a picture of what I assumed was Jim sat with a glass of wine and a copy of Private Eye whilst he was on holiday. That is my mistake and one which I will certainly learn from.”
He added: “I wholeheartedly support the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s comment that there is no excuse for comparing modern day politicians to the Nazis. Indeed, those with whom I have worked and been acquainted with over many years know that I would never sink to make these kind of comparisons and/or refer to Nazism or the Holocaust in any way other than within its historical context. Once again, I give my unreserved apology for any hurt that may have been caused by my flippant liking of an image on social media without reading the text associated with it.”
Cllr Plevin said: “My actions were wrong and inappropriate, and I apologise unreservedly.”
We applaud Cllr Clarkson and Cllr Plevin for recognising the impropriety of their endorsements of the inflammatory posts and apologising. No apology from Cllr Anderson – who posted one of the inflammatory comments himself – has yet been reported, and we call on him to follow his colleagues’ example.
The Labour Party was found by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.