Antisemitism in Political Parties

Jim Sheridan

2017-present: Labour Councillor, Houston, Crosslee and Linwood ward, Renfrewshire Council

2005-2015: Labour Member of Parliament for Paisley and Renfrewshire North

2001-2005: Labour Member of Parliament for Renfrewshire West

1999-2001: Labour Councillor, Erskine Central ward, Renfrewshire Council

Mr Sheridan is also a former TGWU official and former Chair of the Unite group of MPs

Incidents

  1. On 18th August 2018, it was reported that, on 17th August 2018, Councillor Jim Sheridan had posted on his Facebook page, but subsequently deleted: “For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer due to what they and their blairite [sic] plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.”

Analysis

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Cllr Sheridan’s statement amounts to a breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism, and qualifies as antisemitic according to our methodology.

In his statement [1], in reference to the antisemitism crisis in the Labour Party which became particularly intense during the summer of 2018, Cllr Sheridan directly accused the “Jewish community” of wilfully causing harm to both the Labour Party and the “long-suffering people of Britain”. Rather than accept that their complaints about antisemitism were made in good faith, he alleged a political motive, explicitly accusing them of being involved in a conspiracy with unnamed “blairite [sic] plotters” in which he determined British Jews to be so guilty that he felt compelled to withdraw his support from the entire community. In doing so, he was “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.”

He was also employing the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’ in [1], by accusing Jews who cite evidence of antisemitism of lying, conspiring or having deceitful motives in doing so where there is clear evidence that there have been breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism.  This further constitutes “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…”

Furthermore, we note that on 26th March 2018, in a published response to complaints of antisemitism by Jewish community charities, Jeremy Corbyn MP stated: “I recognise that anti-Semitism [sic] has surfaced within the Labour Party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples.” On 24th April, 2018, in an article published in the Evening Standard, Mr Corbyn stated: “We must strive to understand why anti-Semitism [sic] has surfaced in our party”…and “when members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not ‘smears’”.

Outcome

On 18th August 2018, it was reported that, following a complaint, Cllr Sheridan had been suspended by the Labour Party for his post, pending investigation by the party.

On 18th August 2018, it was further reported that a Labour Party spokesman had said in relation to the case: “The Labour party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms. All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

On 18th August 2018, it was also reported that the Renfrewshire North & West Constituency Labour Party Executive Committee had released a statement which read: “The Executive Committee of Renfrewshire North and West Constituency Labour Party (CLP) welcomes the suspension of Jim Sheridan from the Labour Party, pending investigating in [sic] his alleged anti-Semitic [sic] comments made in a Facebook post on Friday 17th August.”

On 18th August 2018, it was also reported that Renfrewshire Council leader Iain Nicolson was urging Cllr Sheridan to resign and stand down as a councillor.

On 20th August 2018, it was reported that the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP had described Mr Sheridan’s comments as “completely unacceptable” and “completely wrong”.

On 26th January 2019, it was reported that Cllr Sheridan’s suspension had been lifted the previous day. No explanation was given as to how the decision to do so had been reached. Cllr Sheridan made a statement in which he reaffirmed his conviction in his position, saying: “Whilst I am delighted with this decision, I remain of the view that my accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership in Scotland and the UK.”

On 20th June 2019, it was reported that Cllr Sheridan had been promoted to the deputy leadership of the Labour group on Renfrewshire council.

Aside from a period of suspension, we do not know whether disciplinary action has been taken by the Labour Party against Cllr Sheridan, and at the time of writing, on 10th June 2020, we have no record of any. However, the circumstances and outcomes of any such action would remain unknown, owing to the conditions of secrecy imposed by Baroness Chakrabarti’s report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

In July 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to both Cllr Sheridan and the Labour Party, but did not receive a response.

On 25th June 2021, it was reported that Cllr Sheridan was being investigated for comments he made at a council meeting, in which he described his original comments about antisemitism as “perfectly reasonable”.

On 19th July 2021, it was reported that Cllr Sheridan had been suspended for a second time.

Rating

Click to add your own text here