Antisemitism in Political Parties

Kate Linnegar

2019-present: Labour Parliamentary candidate for Swindon North

2019: Labour candidate for Penhill and Stratton Ward, Swindon Borough Council.

Also known as Kate Reeve

Incidents

  1. On 28th April 2016, Kate Linnegar shared a link on the Swindon Peoples Assembly Facebook page to an article entitled “Stop this cynical attack: Corbyn, anti-semitism [sic] and the right,” which stated: “accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism.”
  2. On 1st May 2016, Ms Linnegar shared a link on the Swindon Peoples Assembly Facebook page to an article about tax dodging, accompanied by the comment: “with the distraction of the anti semite [sic] fiasco let’s not allow this to be buried.”
  3. On 6th May 2016, Ms Linnegar shared a link on her Facebook page to an article by Norman Finkelstein* entitled “Finkelstein Breaks His Silence. Tells Holocaust-Mongers, ‘It is time to crawl back into your sewer!’” in which he states that MPs calling out antisemitism are “dragging the Nazi Holocaust through the mud for the sake of their petty jostling for power and position.”
    Norman Finkelstein is an anti-Zionist author who argues that the American Jewish establishment exploits the Holocaust for political and financial gain. Mr Finkelstein’s position (as revealed both in his book The Holocaust Industry and more widely) is regarded as hostile to Jews and Israel and, according to eminent academics, to be based in part on fabrications.
  4. On 26th March 2018, Ms Linnegar shared a link on her Facebook page to a statement by the so-called Jewish Voice for Labour (whose purpose is to provide an ostensibly Jewish voice in support of the most extreme elements on the Labour left, which camouflage themselves as anti-Zionists’) in which it is argued that concerns raised by the Jewish community about antisemitism were an attempt to influence the local elections in May 2018. 
  5. On 4th April 2018, Ms Linnegar shared a link on her Facebook page to an article on the Canary site entitled “The media is probably wishing it hadn’t launched its latest Corbyn smear”, regarding the reporting of Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance at a Seder service organised by a controversial Jewish group.
  6. On 4th April 2019, it was reported that, on 29th April 2016, a Facebook user called Aziz Aghabi wrote a post on the ‘Unity News’ Facebook page, which was subsequently shared on the Swindon Peoples Assembly Facebook page. Ms Aghabi made a direct comparison between the actions of the Israeli State towards Muslims and those of Adolf Hitler towards Jews. Ms Linnegar ‘liked’ the post.
  7. On 4th April 2019, it was reported that, on 30th April 2016, an article from the Electronic Intifada website by Asa Winstanley entitled: “How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis” was posted on the Swindon Peoples Assembly Facebook page. At an unknown date after the posting, Ms Linnegar ‘liked’ this post.
    Asa Winstanley is a London-based journalist primarily associated with Electronic Intifada who regularly promotes antisemitic conspiracy theories (particularly the suggestion that British MPs and Jewish groups are working for Israel) and asserts that accusations of antisemitism are “fabrication” and “smears”. He was suspended from the Labour Party for alleged antisemitism in March 2019, when it emerged he was a member.

Analysis

Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Ms Linnegar’s action and statements amount to breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism and qualify as antisemitic discourse according to our methodology.

By ‘liking’ a post that compares the actions of Israel to those of Nazi Germany [6], Ms Linnegar was endorsing “…comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

In sharing posts characterising accusations of antisemitism brought by Jewish groups or individuals as “smear[s]”, “cynical attack[s]”, a “distraction[s]” and in other ways characterising them as having a hidden motive, particularly to attack Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, in [1], [2], [3], [4] and [5]; and by ‘liking’ a post in which it is alleged that an “Israel Lobby” had “fabricated” an “antisemitism crisis” — a trope regarding the hidden power of diaspora Jews or Israel — Ms Linnegar 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”.

She was further deploying the so-called Livingstone Formulation in [1], [2], [3], [4], [5] and [7], by accusing Jews who cite evidence of antisemitism of lying, conspiring, or having deceitful motives in doing so, in cases where there is clear evidence that there have been breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism. 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

Kate Linnegar’s twitter account refers to her current membership of the so-called Peoples Assembly.

On 19th June 2018, it was reported that Ms Linnegar had been forced to distance herself from the Swindon Peoples Assembly twitter account — on which multiple antisemitic tweets had been made — and had denied having any involvement with it; later that same day, it was reported that the account had been deleted.

On 21st June 2018, the activist group LAAS (Labour Against Antisemitism) claimed to have reported Kate Linnegar to South West Labour Party and to have asked her to stand down as a parliamentary candidate. 

On 23rd June 2018, it was reported that Councillor Carol Shelley, chairman of the North Swindon Labour Party, had said: “The Labour Party takes these sorts of accusations very seriously. We have referred the matter to our regional office”, adding that the matter had been referred to the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee. 

On 24th August 2018, it was reported that no further action was being taken by the Labour Party against Ms Linnegar, and she remains a Labour Party Parliamentary candidate in the 2019 General Election.

Ms Linnegar was selected as a Labour candidate for Penhill and Stratton Ward in the May 2019 local council elections for Swindon Borough Council. In the course of the campaign, during which the comments above were brought to public attention, she issued a statement in which she said: “I sincerely apologise for having liked or shared these posts in the past and for the offence this has caused” and claimed that she had subsequently “developed a deeper understanding about the issue”.

The process by which the Labour Party reached its decision to take no disciplinary action against Ms Linnegar remains unknown, owing to the conditions of secrecy imposed by the Chakrabarti report on antisemitism in the Labour Party.

In November 2019, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to Ms Linnegar, but did not receive a response.

Rating

Campaign Against Antisemitism has rated the Party’s handling of this matter as “bad”. Our rating system is explained in our methodology. This case was last updated on 27th November 2019.