Antisemitism in Political Parties

Matthew Collings

2019: Labour parliamentary candidate, South West Norfolk (deselected)


  1. On 26th March 2018, responding to a tweet about antisemitism in the Labour Party, Matthew Collings tweeted: “I thank you Karen for making a good point against the campaign of faking up antisemitism problems in Labour, a campaign transparently politically motivated and nothing to do with antisemitism.”
  2. On 30th March 2018, shortly after a rally outside Parliament led by Jewish groups protesting antisemitism in the Labour Party, Mr Collings wrote on Facebook [a] that “Antisemitism amongst Labour voters is real but confined to a tiny minority…However the smear campaign is real, too. It is deeply cynical and nothing to do with protecting Jews against antisemitism.” In a further comment, he stated [b]: “There are many Jewish groups in the UK that vociferously do not agree with the coalition between the two Jewish groups that organised the demonstration (and are in the forefront of the smear campaign), and Tory party members and supporters, and apologists for Israel.”
  3. On 4th April 2018, Mr Collings approvingly posted the text of a tweet on Facebook which had originally been posted by the author Michael Rosen in response to criticism of Jeremy Corbyn for having attended a Seder meal with the fringe group Jewdas: “We’re going on a witch hunt, we’re going to catch a Corbyn. What a beautiful day. We’re not scared. Uh-uh. Jewdas! The wrong sort of Jews! We can’t go over them, we can’t go under them, Oh no! we’ve got to tell lies about them: smirch, smirch, smirch, smirch…”
  4. On 1st August 2018, Mr Collings posted a video on Facebook entitled “UK Jewish MP: Israel acting like Nazis in Gaza”, which featured a speech given by the late Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, in which he stated: [a] “My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town a German soldier shot her dead in her bed…My grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza. The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt from gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count. On Sky News a few days ago, the spokeswoman for the Israeli army, Major Leibovich, was asked about the Israeli killing of, at that time, 800 Palestinians—the total is now 1,000. She replied instantly that 500 of them were militants. [b] That was the reply of a Nazi.”
  5. On 21st August 2018, Mr Collings approvingly reproduced a claim attributed to Tony Greenstein (a founder of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign who has been expelled from the Labour Party over his abusive social media activity, including repeatedly referring to various Jews as “Zios”) writing [a]: “I can’t see that Tony Greenstein is wrong in this claim. I do see that things change, that behaviours and language become contentious and a problem when previously they weren’t. But what he’s saying here is that a new thing called ‘antisemitism’ is now on the cards which simply is not antisemitism but all must now not only say it is, but also act outraged when examples of it are encountered — while knowing it is nothing to be outraged about. ‘It is Zionism that creates antisemitism today. As a general phenomenon antisemitism does not exist in the LP. No Jew is hurt by the odd clumsy formulation unlike arson attacks on Mosques, deportation of Black people etc. etc. It is a totally fake issue.’”Another Facebook user commented: “A totally fake issue promulgated for one reason and one reason only; and that is to deny Palestinians any substantial portion of their homeland along with their basic human rights.” [b] Mr Collings ‘liked’ this.
  6. On 2nd September 2018, Mr Collings [a] shared a Facebook post by Tony Greenstein which included an article penned by him in which, arguing against the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, he stated, inter alia, that “the campaign over anti-semitism [sic] is really about Israel”. Another Facebook user commented: “Can’t have a UK Labour gov unless Netanyahu says it’s ok…” Mr Collings [b] ‘liked’ this.
  7. On 18th February 2019, responding to the announcement that the Jewish MP Luciana Berger had resigned from the Labour Party citing antisemitism, Mr Collings wrote a post on Facebook in which he questioned her analysis of the extent of antisemitism in the Party and requested examples of abuse she had suffered from Labour members. When another Facebook user shared an article relating to the alleged antisemitic discourse of Alex Scott-Samuels, the chair of Ms Berger’s constituency party, Mr Collings rejected the suggestion, partly on the basis that Dr Scott-Samuels is Jewish, accusing his interlocutor of [a] “joining in a smear campaign” and stating [b] that the intervention had provided “excellent examples of how bizarrely distorted and fundamentally mendacious this whole phenomenon of pretending Labour is antisemitic, really is.”Responding to his interlocutor’s having cited Gilad Atzmon (the Israeli-born British jazz musician and author who is widely considered to be an antisemite) in defence of the proposition that Jews can be antisemitic, Mr Collings responded [c]: “Gilad Atzmon is a notorious antisemitic Jew. A very singular figure. There is no situation of it ‘always being strange’ when Jews are antisemitic. The notion has been concocted in order to fakely explain why so many UK Jews are Labour supporting and Corbyn supporting. UK Jews genuinely fearful of Labour antisemitism have been duped into that state precisely by the kind of twisted behaviour and outrageously dishonest propagandising you demonstrate here.”
  8. On 28th February 2019, Mr Collings wrote on Facebook: “[Chris] Williamson talks to an audience of Jewish people who applaud because they agree with him. But they are the wrong Jews. Jews that don’t agree are the only ones who must be listened to. Surely it’s a case of left versus right rather than Jews versus antisemites? Jews that agree with Williamson must be silenced. I mean, to be moral about it, it seems actually wicked that an obviously left-right thing is misrepresented for political gain as an antisemitism thing.”
  9. On 30th March 2019, responding to a tweet in which the actor Miriam Margolyes was quoted as saying “There’s no doubt that there is #antisemitism in England, primarily I would say in the Tory party rather than in the Labour Party. I don’t think that the Labour Party is spectacularly anti-semitic [sic]. I am quite sure that Corbyn himself is not”, Mr Collings tweeted: “Obviously the wrong kind of Jew (ie not right wing).
  10. On or around 30th March 2019, Mr Collings was a signatory to a letter produced by the Labour Against the Witch Hunt group in defence of Jackie Walker, the former Vice-chair of Momentum who was suspended twice from the Labour Party for antisemitism-related breaches of Labour Party rules before being expelled for making comments that were “prejudicial” and “grossly detrimental” to the Party. The letter stated: “Jackie’s original remarks, such as ‘not having heard a definition of anti-Semitism I can work with’, were obviously not anti-Semitic [sic]. Jackie’s real offence was being an anti-Zionist. Because of the difficulty of making a charge of anti-Semitism [sic] stick, Jackie’s alleged offence was changed to the subjective catch-all one of ‘misconduct’… False accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’ [sic] are the Zionists’ only method of defending the Israeli state. Jackie’s expulsion is an attack on free speech. Rather than defend the world’s only apartheid state Israel’s supporters in the Labour Party cry ‘anti-Semitism’ [sic]”.
  11. On 16th April 2019, responding to the revelation that Richard Burgon MP had repeatedly lied in an interview with Andrew Neil about having called Zionism “the enemy of peace”, Mr Collings tweeted: “Burgon should just say, Look there’s a witch hunt McCarthy thing going on where you have to lie & not tell the truth. That’s why I lied. Of course Zionism is the enemy of peace. [Andrew] Neil isn’t interested in whether it’s a lie or not, just in winning a move in the witch hunt game.”
  12. On 19th April 2019, Mr Collings posted an image on Facebook entitled “How ‘The Lobby’ influences our politics”, purporting to show that Israel or supposedly pro-Israel donors directly or indirectly funded the Labour Friends of Israel, the Independent Group of MPs (some of whom had left the Labour Party citing antisemitism) and the then-Deputy Labour Leader Tom Watson. Mr Collings commented: “Why are you hearing so much at such a high trumpeting level, about a phenomenon — antisemitism — that is very small in Labour, confined to a few fringe nutcases, and as such is pitiable and silly, rather than menacing or horrifying?”


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

By sharing a video in which the actions of Israel in Gaza were compared to those of the Nazis [4a][4b], Mr Collings was disseminating material which was “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

By sharing an image on Facebook which purported to show that Israel or supposedly pro-Israel donors and other groups and individuals collectively termed “The Lobby” (thereby deploying a trope regarding the hidden power of diaspora Jews or Israel which originated in the antisemitic propaganda of 1970s Soviet Russia) influence British politics [12]; and by endorsing the suggestion that the Prime Minister of Israel has the ultimate sanction over the choice of a British premier [6b], 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.”

The assertion that Jews exploit the Holocaust politically and financially is an antisemitic trope based on the perception of negative Jewish character traits; namely the classic antisemitic stereotypical portrayal of Jews as dishonest  and greedy. This trope is now so widespread that, in a 2018 CNN survey, a third of Europeans expressed the opinion that Jews exploit the Holocaust. By sharing a video in which it was asserted that the Holocaust was being exploited [4a], therefore, he was disseminating material which was “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…”

By labelling Jews who protest against antisemitism in the Labour Party as “right-wing” [8][9], and by alleging that Jewish groups were in a “coalition” with “Tory party members and supporters” [2b], Mr Collings was advancing an antisemitic trope which has gained currency in left-wing discourse which allows the views and concerns of Jewish people not only to be dismissed, but which also seeks to demonise them by association with political groups already demonised on the left, either by employing the generalised term ‘right wing’, or by explicitly linking them with the Conservative Party, which is often associated with the notion of ‘evil’ in left-wing discourse. By making these assertions, therefore, he was again “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews..”

Moreover, members of the mainstream Jewish community are often accused of regarding others as being “the wrong sort of Jew”; for example, some members of the so-called Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), who have defended the Labour Party against allegations of antisemitism, or have even engaged in antisemitic discourse themselves, and appear to have embraced being called antisemitic as something of a badge of honour. This seems to be a form of projection of the antisemitic action of making a distinction between supposedly “good” Jews and “bad” ones, which has manifested itself in many ways over the centuries, and which allows the accuser to withold sympathy, solidarity and protection from those so accused. Such accusations are deployed in the same way as the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation’, whereby the accuser refuses to engage with a complaint of antisemitism, and instead makes a counter-accusation in order to invalidate it. Thus, by sharing a post in which the Jewdas group were presented as being considered the “the wrong sort of Jew” [3] and by ironically describing the actor Miriam Margolyes as such for downplaying the extent of antisemitism in the Labour Party and denying the possibility that Jeremy Corbyn might have engaged in antisemitic discourse [9], he was further “making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews…”

Zionism is an expression of national self-determination for Jews, and since the establishment of the State of Israel, of support for the maintenance of that state. However, the allegation that Zionism is an inherently far-right and racist ideology was promulgated by the Soviet Union in the post-war era until 1989, as part of a deliberate and explicitly antisemitic campaign to persecute Jewish citizens who wished to practise their religion and/or leave the Soviet Union — especially to emigrate to Israel — as well as to demonise and undermine Israel on the foreign stage for global strategic gain. A singular purpose of this propaganda was to drive a false distinction between “Jews” and “Zionists”, in which the latter is the enemy of the former, and the embodiment of many older antisemitic tropes. By both defending Richard Burgon MP for having stated that “Zionism is the enemy of peace” and asserting the same view [11], Mr Collings was demonising Zionism, and as such was “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination…”

Furthermore, we note the words of the Labour Party’s own guidance issued on the use of the term ‘Zionism’, particularly where it states that: “…for many Jews, Zionism represents national liberation. The concepts of Israel, Zion and Jerusalem run deeply in Jewish religion, identity and culture, and…are symbolic of a homeland, refuge, or place of safety. The sensitivities around these concepts should be considered before using them.”

Given that many of those claiming that there is a significant problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party are Jewish, by variously sharing or endorsing material and statements which described, or directly making statements himself which described accusations of antisemitism in the Labour Party as “politically motivated”, “misrepresented for political gain” and “nothing to do with antisemitism” or “nothing to do with protecting Jews from antisemitism” [1][2a][8]; as a “smear campaign”[2b][7a]; as a “witch hunt” [3][11]; as a “totally fake issue” [5a]; as being “promulgated…to deny Palestinians any substantial portion of their homeland along with their basic human rights” [5b] and “really about Israel” [6a]; as “fundamentally mendacious” [7b]; as “twisted behaviour and outrageously dishonest propagandising” made with the aim of “duping” Jews into being fearful [7c]; and by signing a letter defending remarks made by  Jackie Walker (which included having asserted that Jews were among the “chief financiers of the…slave trade” – a proven antisemitic myth) as “obviously not anti-Semitic” [sic], but rather, “false accusations” made by “Zionists” as a “method of defending the Israeli state” [10], he was deploying or disseminating material which deployed the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation, by accusing Jews who cite evidence of antisemitism of lying, conspiring or having deceitful motives in doing so, when 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…”


On 27th October 2019, just a few days after having announced his candidacy, Mr Collings wrote on Facebook that he had been suspended from the Labour Party, stating that the reason given was “allegations relating to behaviour on social media.”

On 29th October 2019, it was reported that a Labour spokesperson had confirmed that Mr Collings was no longer a parliamentary candidate.

On 3rd November 2019, it was reported that Mr Collings had described former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks as a “notorious hate-filled racist”.

At the time of writing, on 22nd October 2020, it is unknown whether further disciplinary action has been taken by the Labour Party against Mr Collings. 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.


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 1st Monthember 2019.

Campaign Against Antisemitism has rated the Party’s handling of this matter as “unsatisfactory”. Our rating system is explained in our methodology. This case was last updated on 7th December 2020.

Campaign Against Antisemitism has rated the Party’s handling of this matter as “good”. Our rating system is explained in our methodology. This case was last updated on 1st Monthember 2019.