Jann Oliver, until recently a Labour candidate in the general election, was deselected by the Party’s ruling body in November for what her constituency branch called “personal reasons”. However, Campaign Against Antisemitism can reveal that Ms Oliver also had a history of antisemitic social media activity.
In June, Ms Oliver was selected to represent the Labour Party as its parliamentary candidate for Bromley and Chislehurst. However, on 7th November 2019, with only weeks to go before the general election, it was reported that she had been deselected by Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee the previous day. No reason for the deselection was provided. Ms Oliver’s local Labour constituency branch, however, announced that she had stood down “for personal reasons”.
However, another candidate. Jason West, who was to stand for Labour in West Dorset, was apparently deselected simultaneously with Ms Oliver. He expressed his annoyance at being cited in the same Huffington Post reportage, claiming that the news website “should have no idea” why he was deselected, as he was “told not to tell anyone by the Labour Party.”
Meanwhile, Ms Oliver’s Twitter account was deleted. Nevertheless, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Political and Government Investigations Unit can now reveal that Ms Oliver had regularly retweeted posts which clearly fell foul of the International Definition of Antisemitism, which had been adopted by the Labour Party over her (and others’) objections.
Having discovered that Ms Oliver followed @SocialistVoice, an account run by expelled Labour activist Scott Nelson, our investigators discovered that she had also shared a number of disturbing posts on social media, many of them sharing the common theme that ‘Zionists’ were supposedly conspiring, using smears and lies, to contrive the downfall of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
These posts included an article from the Dorset Eye site (which frequently hosts antisemitic content) asserting that accusations of antisemitism against Mr Corbyn were part of an effort by “the establishment media and Zionists across all political parties” to “serially” undermine the Labour leader, and that those making such accusations had been “convinced by shady characters” and were “bogged down in hate and the incapacity to think analytically”. The article also spoke of “dark forces at play” and reproduced part of an article by the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation, Jewish Voice for Labour, which stated in relation to the antisemitism crisis in Labour that “attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and Labour have been grossly exaggerated, and in some cases fabricated.”
Ms Oliver also shared a post which spoke of a “concerted attack on the Labour leadership using false and contrived accusations of antisemitism”, and another which claimed that Mr Corbyn was being “smeared with NO EVIDENCE”.
Further posts included several retweets from an account claiming to be that of a young Jewish supporter of Mr Corbyn who was “opposed to Zionism and the State of Israel”, and who claimed that one of their principal motivations for joining Twitter was to “as a Jew…help fight against the FALSE antisemitic accusations” against Mr Corbyn and disgraced MP Chris Williamson. This account, however, was widely suspected to be a fake — part of a widely documented phenomenon whereby social media users claim Jewish heritage in order to defend the Labour Party against accusations of antisemitism, or to spread antisemitic content.
For her own part, Ms Oliver was also clearly keen to show her support for Mr Williamson — by then suspended by the Labour Party — by promoting the fundraising campaign in support of his legal action against his suspension by Labour over alleged antisemitism. On one occasion, this involved promoting a tweet which included a message by the rapper Lowkey alleging that “the real target” of what he called “the injustice” against Mr Williamson was in fact Mr Corbyn.
Ms Oliver also shared a video of a speech given by the late Labour MP Gerald Kaufman, in which he likened Israel’s policy to that of the Nazis and alleged that the Holocaust was being exploited for political ends. This video was shared from an account calling itself “Zionism Research Center,” whose output consists almost entirely of pro-Iranian content and popular conspiracy theories, including that ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi was trained by the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad; that Israel controls US politics; that Israel controls Facebook; that Zionists “own” the media; that Israeli Jews are “fake” Jews (the so-called ‘Khazar myth’); that Israel was involved in the 9/11 attacks; that Jews are “parasites” who are prone to “avarice”; and memes glorifying violence against Israeli Jews.
Ms Oliver’s posts have implied that the British Jewish community’s complaints of antisemitism have been part of a mendacious conspiracy to bring about the fall of Mr Corbyn, and she has posted material from sites known for propagating extreme antisemitism, fundraised for Mr Williamson, and promoted material comparing Israel to the Nazis.
Whether this sordid social media history was behind the quiet abandonment of her candidacy remains unconfirmed. Ms Oliver responded to our requests for comment, informing us that her reasons for standing down as a candidate were of a purely personal nature. She added: “I am totally against antisemitism in all its forms, and have actively campaigned against it.” Despite being provided with the complete brief of supporting evidence in the links above, Ms Oliver demanded to “see proof”. We replied to observe that all of our supporting evidence in connection with this article had been provided to her, and she has given no further response.
Joe Glasman, Head of Political investigations at Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Despite the publicly-available evidence demonstrating that Ms Oliver has shared an abundance of antisemitic media on social media, her Constituency Labour Party nonetheless made her their Parliamentary candidate and said that they were ‘thrilled’ to do so. Meanwhile, if she was indeed dropped by Labour ‘for personal reasons’, then clearly the Party had no problem with her views and social media activity. If, however, there were other reasons behind the deselection, then Labour is guilty of a cover-up. Either way, these daily illustrations of Labour’s institutional antisemitism under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn have become the norm for Britain’s Jews.”