Cllr Anne Pissaridou was suspended from Labour in 2020, reportedly in connection with antisemitism allegations, and a Facebook post in particular.
At the time, she said: “I am deeply sorry for my actions and any distress I have caused to the Jewish community. This happened several years ago, before I was a councillor, and the posts I shared do not reflect my views. I do not seek to excuse my mistake. I deeply regret not properly reading information before sharing such hurtful links. I am aware of the complaint that has been made to the Labour Party and will fully co-operate with any investigation.”
In 2021, when her suspension was due to end, her colleagues wrote to the Council’s Chief Executive to exclude her from their faction. They have now reversed themselves, however, welcoming her reinstatement.
In a statement, Brighton and Hove Labour Group of Councillors said: “The Brighton and Hove Labour Group of Councillors have decided to readmit Cllr Pissaridou into the Labour Group after a period of exclusion. The Labour Group have made this decision as they feel Cllr Pissaridou has made conscious and sustained efforts to educate herself on issues around antisemitism and antisemitic tropes. She has also begun rebuilding trust with members of the local Jewish community and has apologised wholeheartedly for her actions that led to her initial suspension from the Labour Party.
“The Labour Group are clear that whilst we welcome the rehabilitative steps Cllr Pissaridou has taken, there is an ongoing learning journey we must all continuously take to improve our efforts to be proactive anti-racists and ever vigilant in the face of antisemitism. The Brighton & Hove Labour Group are clear that there is no room for antisemitism or any other form of racism in our party, on our council, or in our city. That’s why we pledged to become an anti-racist Council, and we remain committed to delivering on that promise.”
The about-turn has been met with fury by local activists.
Meanwhile in Dudley, action is yet to be taken against Cllr Zafar Islam despite a complaint reportedly having been made against him months ago.
The complaint by Labour Against Antisemitism, submitted in September 2021, details Cllr Islam’s social media activity, where he claims a “witch-hunt” has taken place against Labour politicians critical of Israel, among other inflammatory remarks. The activist group reportedly has yet to hear if any action has been taken in connection with the complaint.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “If Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and Chris Williamson have no place in the Labour Party, then surely those like Cllr Zafar Islam who appear to have defended them and persistently complain about how Labour antisemitism allegations are pushed by a ‘Lobby’ must be investigated and sanctioned. Yet it remains unknown if the Party has taken any action against Cllr Islam at all, despite a complaint having been made months ago. Sir Keir Starmer claims that he has ‘shut the door’ on antisemitism, but with cases like these it looks more like the Party is shutting the door on campaigners who want transparency and action.”
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.