Labour Party suspends councillor who allegedly quoted KKK’s David Duke and compared Israel to Nazis
The Labour Party has suspended a councillor from Blackpool based on allegations that he wrote Facebook posts full of inflammatory comments about Jews.
The Party has suspended Councillor David Owen for eighteen months after investigating eight posts that he is alleged to have written between September 2016 and July 2020, including comments that quote the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard, David Duke, and another comparing Israel to the Nazis.
Cllr Owen remains, however, part of the Labour group on Blackpool Council.
Cllr Owen released a statement in which he said that “I have tried to remove all my posts which cause offence. I apologise unreservedly to anyone who has read any or all of them and, particularly, I express my sincere regrets to Jewish people as individuals and collectively whom I have wronged through my reckless actions.”
Though Cllr Owen reportedly said that he accepted that his comments were antisemitic according to the International Definition of Antisemitism, he maintains that the Definition “almost shut[s] down free speech” when it is applied to the State of Israel.
Cllr Owen said: “I am not an antisemite though I have transgressed the definition of what that is in the Labour Party.”
He announced that he intends to appeal his suspension because he feels that the penalty is “disproportionate”.
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.