Antisemitism in Political Parties

Steve Collings

2017-present: Plaid Cymru councillor, Deiniol ward, Bangor


  1. On 6th March 2019, Councillor Steve Collings posted on Facebook in defence of Councillor Jo Bird, who had been suspended from the Labour Party on account of an article she had written, in which, inter alia, she claimed that prejudice against Jews was being “privileged” over other forms of racism and suggested that British Jews expected antisemitism to be “on a pedestal”, and defended both Jackie Walker and Ken Livingstone, suggesting that they had been unfairly accused of antisemitism. Cllr Collings wrote: “An old friend and comrade of mine – who is a councillor on the Wirral – has been suspended from the Labour party for making an ‘anti-semitic’ pun. The only complicating factor is that she is Jewish herself, and the pun was part of a long piece on the dangers of both anti-semitism [sic] and the witch hunt being carried out in its name.”
    It should be noted that neither being born Jewish nor being a practising Jew would change the nature or effects of statements that manifestly and objectively disseminate antisemitic discourse.
  2. On 2nd April 2019, Cllr Collings wrote an extended post on Facebook on the subject of “colonial imperialism”, in which he stated: “This system also gave rise to the two best known apartheid regimes in the world – South Africa and Israel. The key difference between these two and the big three [Australia, Canada and the USA] mentioned above is that significant indigenous populations survived in both of them, meaning that whole new systems of repression were required to ensure that resource control rested with the white man. White supremacism, anglo-saxon [sic] colonial capitalism and rampant industrial scale ecocide are all so intimately linked that historians 500 years from now will describe them as one single phenomena.”
  3. On 10th October 2020, an article was posted by the Nation.Cymru news site on its own Facebook page, entitled “Adam Price should take a leaf out of Keir Starmer’s book and show he is serious on anti-semitism [sic]”, criticising the party for its failure to take action against would-be Welsh Assembly candidate Sahar Al-Faifi, who had a history of allegedly antisemitic discourse. In the discussion which ensued, one contributor commented: [a] “Is that when you criticize the Israeli government and get called a racist? Or do you mean proper anti-Semitism [sic]?” Cllr Collings ‘liked’ this.
    When the discussion moved to the role antisemitism had played in Jeremy Corbyn’s electoral defeat, another contributor commented: [b] “It was a pack of lies to discredit the most consistent anti-racist in Parliament. ! Don’t fall for that one! Or push it! They even tried it on Sanders. If the Welsh Indy movement is going to try to discredit Plaid using these lies, then you’ll scupper trust in you as an Indy mover.” Cllr Collings ‘liked’ this.
    Plaid Cymru Councillor Carrie Harper commented: [c] “There is an organised effort to go after Plaid reps with accusations of anti semitism [sic] in an attempt to stop criticism of the Israeli Government. I know because an article I wrote, ironically titled ‘criticism of the Israeli Government is not anti Semitic [sic]’ sparked a complaint against me, it was also an article nation [referring to Nation.Cymru] refused to publish. To publish yet another attack on Sahar, in the middle of the List selection process is pretty below the belt. Really disappointed to see this, no doubt deliberately timed article, it’s starting to look like a witch hunt.” Cllr Collings ‘loved’ this.
    [d] A further commenter added: “Don’t make the same mistake as Corbyn and try to appease the Israeli them out and make it 100% clear that to critisise the STATE of Israel is not antisemitic no matter how much they’ll try to spin it as antisemitic!” Cllr Collings ‘liked’ this.


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

 The assertion that Jews are ‘white’ or ‘European’ is often made in order to cast them as alien ‘colonialists’ in Israel without a true connection to the land, and the Israel-Palestine conflict as based on racial oppression, whereas the majority of Jews in Israel are actually of Middle Eastern or North African descent. Moreover, by designating Jews as ‘white’ (with its inherent implication of privilege and power), according to the hierarchical understanding of disadvantage conceived within the framework of intersectional or identity politics to which Cllr Collings appears to subscribe, they can be cast as a group who do not suffer discrimination, but are, rather, more likely to occupy the role of oppressors. Thus, by characterising Jewish Israelis as “white [men]” engaged in “white supremacism”, and the creation of the State of Israel as an act of “imperial colonialism” [2], Cllr Collings was “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination (e.g. by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour)”.

Given that Jewish groups and individuals have been prominent among those who have claimed there is antisemitism in the Labour Party, by characterising such allegations as part of a “witch hunt” [1]; by endorsing the suggestion that an individual with a history of antisemitic discourse was being criticised simply for being a critic of Israel [3a]; by endorsing the assertion that allegations of antisemitism made against Jeremy Corbyn were “a pack of lies” intended to discredit him [3b]; by endorsing the assertion that there was a conspiracy to “go after” Plaid Cymru representatives with accusations of antisemitism in order to “stop criticism of the Israeli government”, characterised as a “witch hunt” [3c]; and by endorsing a statement which characterised those who made claims of antisemitism in the Labour Party (which necessarily includes Jews) as “Israeli apologists” who were making false claims [3d], he was both deploying and endorsing the deployment of 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…” under the definition.

We further note that the report of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) following its statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party, in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant,  a section entitled “Types of antisemitic conduct that amounted to unlawful harassment” with a subsection entitled “Suggesting that complaints of antisemitism are fake or smears”. This subsection states that: “Labour Party agents denied antisemitism in the Party and made comments dismissing complaints as ‘smears’ and ‘fake’. This conduct may target Jewish members as deliberately making up antisemitism complaints to undermine the Labour Party, and ignores legitimate and genuine complaints of antisemitism in the Party. These comments went beyond simply describing the agents’ own personal experience of antisemitism in the Party.”

Additionally, in its report, the EHRC made clear that its judgements apply to all political parties and emphasised that the European Convention on Human Rights does not protect racist speech, which may include antisemitic speech.

On this basis, the EHRC found that denying antisemitism in the Labour Party and making comments dismissing complaints as “smears” or “fake” — such as allegations  that complaints of antisemitism are “part of a smear campaign by ‘the Israel lobby’ to stigmatise critics of Israel as antisemitic, and … intended to undermine and disrupt the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn MP” — are not protected by the fundamental right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In other words, such comments are not protected as freedom of speech at all, but amount to unlawful harassment of Jewish people.

Furthermore, the EHRC specified certain examples of antisemitic conduct which would be unlawful on the same basis within the relevant context.
Cllr Collings’ comments in which he deploys or endorses the deployment of the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation as described above do not, therefore, constitute protected speech under our analysis of the EHRC’s report.

Moreover, by deploying the so-called ‘Livingstone Formulation as described above, Cllr Collings, as an agent of his Party, may therefore have caused Plaid Cymru to breach equality legislation.


In June 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism was informed by a member of the public that they had lodged a complaint with Plaid Cymru against Cllr Collings over his social media activity.

In August 2020, the same member of the public informed us that their complaint had not been upheld.

In December 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism put this matter to both Cllr Collings and Plaid Cymru. Cllr Collings did not respond, but a Plaid Cymru spokesperson said: “Plaid Cymru is committed to building a Wales where all members of society feel safe and valued, and we are completely opposed to any form of discrimination.”


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 15th December 2020.

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 1st Monthember 2019.

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.