Antisemitism in Political Parties

Steve Reed

2012-present: Labour and Co-operative Party Member of Parliament for Croydon North

2020-present: Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government


  1. On 4th July 2020, Steve Reed MP tweeted: “Is millionaire former porn-baron Desmond the puppet-master for the entire Tory cabinet? @Robert Jenrick @PritiPatel”.

    It had been reported that day that, before becoming Home Secretary, Priti Patel MP had been lobbied by the Jewish businessman Richard Desmond, over the matter of relaxing lottery regulations. It had previously been reported that the Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP had been lobbied by Mr Desmond over a matter of property development.


Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis is that Mr Reed’s action constitutes a breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism and qualifies as antisemitic discourse according to our methodology.

By tweeting the suggestion that a Jewish businessman was the “puppet-master” of the Conservative cabinet, thereby employing an antisemitic trope with a long history, having been deployed during the Nazi era and more recently being frequently evoked to demonise Jewish businesspeople [1], 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.”


Mr Reed deleted his tweet within a matter of hours.

On 5th July 2020, it was reported that Mr Reed had been criticised by the Conservative MP Andrew Percy, who sits on the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, who said: “Alluding to Jews as puppet-masters is an age old antisemitic trope and for a Shadow Cabinet member to use this trope is totally unacceptable. If Keir Starmer was serious about tackling antisemitism he would sack Steve Reed on the spot. Otherwise the British people will rightly conclude the action taken against  Rebecca Long-Bailey last week was done out of political convenience rather than principle.”

It was further reported that a source described as “close to” Mr Reed had said: “Steve did not know Richard Desmond was Jewish. He deleted the tweet and did not mean to cause any offence.”

On 6th July 2020, Sir Keir Starmer was interviewed on LBC and, when asked whether Mr Reed would be facing disciplinary action for his tweet in [1], Sir Keir replied that he hadn’t seen the tweet or discussed it with Mr Reed, but that he would do so once the interview was over.

Later that day, Mr Reed tweeted: “I want to apologise unreservedly for the language in the tweet I posted on Saturday. It was inappropriate and as soon as I realised my error I deleted it.”

We do not know whether disciplinary action has been taken by the Labour Party against Mr Reed, and at the time of writing, on 9th August 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 August 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to both Mr Reed and the Labour Party, but did not receive a response.


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 17th August 2020.