Antisemitism in Political Parties

Neale Hanvey

2019-present: Scottish National Party Member of Parliament for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

2018: Scottish National Party candidate, Inverkeithing and Dalgety Bay ward, Fife Council

2017: Scottish National Party candidate, Dunfermline Central ward, Fife Council

2016: Scottish National Party Scottish parliamentary candidate for Mid Scotland and Fife

2012-2017: Scottish National Party councillor, Dunfermline central ward, Fife Council


  1. On an unknown date in 2016, Neale Hanvey shared an article on Facebook from the Russian propaganda site Sputnik News, which reportedly included an image of the Jewish billionaire George Soros as a puppet master controlling world leaders.Although Mr Hanvey’s post has since been deleted, on 20th August 2016, an article was published by Sputnik entitled: “‘Obama has been too soft on Putin’ said Soros as he called the shots on Ukraine.” The accompanying image, which was labelled “George Soros, the puppet master”, corresponds to that described above, showing Mr Soros manipulating US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who were key actors in the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014.
  2. On an unknown date, Mr Hanvey posted a comment on Facebook in which he reportedly drew parallels between “the treatment of Palestinians and the unconscionable treatment of Jews in Europe during WW2.”
  3. On 28th November 2019, a Twitter user responded to Mr Hanvey’s apology for the above posts, in which he wrote: “Getting rather upset at the way wholly justified criticism of Israel leads to accusations of anti-semitism [sic].” Mr Hanvey ‘liked’ this.
  4. On 28th November 2019, another Twitter user responded to Mr Hanvey’s apology by writing:“Fair enough, but there was nothing anti-semitic [sic] in any of yer posts, we are getting a wee bit too precious over this issue and everyone is terrified to criticise that evil Israeli govt.” Mr Hanvey ‘liked’ this.
  5. On 28th November 2019, a further Twitter user responded to Mr Hanvey’s apology by writing: “I am not anti-Semitic [sic]. I feel physically sick when I think of [what] Jewish ppl endured in the [20th Century] , but that doesn’t mean their motives can’t be questioned in the [21st Century]. You can be a good or bad COS, Jew, Muslim, Buddhist… you should define yourself not be defined by your religion.” Mr Hanvey ‘liked’ this.


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

By drawing parallels between “the treatment of Palestinians and the unconscionable treatment of Jews in Europe during WW2 [2], he was “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”

By sharing an article which represented the Jewish financier George Soros as a puppet-master, manipulating world leaders [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.”

Given that Jewish groups and individuals have been prominent among those who have sought to expose antisemitism, and that he had already made a statement accepting that his comments had been antisemitic, by endorsing posts in which it was suggested both that the accusations of antisemitism made against him had been false and that other such accusations are specifically made in order to defend Israel [3][4]; and by endorsing a post which implied that accusations of antisemitism were made in order to prevent scrutiny of the “motives” of Jews [5], he was 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 as such or the power of Jews as collective.”


On 28th November 2019, Mr Hanvey posted a statement on Twitter, announcing that he had been suspended with immediate effect from the SNP, but that his name would remain on the ballot paper for the forthcoming general election. In regard to [1], he wrote: “I did not give any thought to Mr Soros’ faith and did not consider the connotations of the image in that context. I fully accept that was wrong and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused”. In relation to his comparison in [2], he wrote that it was “insensitive, upsetting and deeply offensive and…in direct contravention of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. For that I give an unequivocal apology”.

On 13th December 2019, Mr Hanvey was elected to Parliament as an independent MP.

On 3rd March 2020, it was reported that, following a disciplinary review, Mr Hanvey would be readmitted to the SNP in May 2020 following a six-month suspension, provided he undertook an antisemitism education course.

An Scottish National Party spokesperson reportedly said: “The decision of the Member Conduct Committee is open to appeal and so we cannot make any additional comment as [sic] this stage. As was said at the time of Mr Hanvey’s suspension, there is no place for antisemitism in the SNP or in our society.”

On 4th March 2020, it was reported that Mr Hanvey had told BBC Scotland he experienced an “internal moral panic”, as he did not consider himself to hold bigoted views about Jewish people. He said he never meant to cause offence and was “earnestly trying to make amends” by working with the Antisemitism Policy Trust to better understand the issue. In a separate written statement, Mr Hanvey reportedly said he had also taken steps “to build constructive relationships” with representatives of the Jewish community at Westminster.

On 2nd June 2020, it was reported that Mr Hanvey had been readmitted to the Scottish National Party.

On 9th June 2020, an article by Mr Hanvey was published in Jewish News in which he wrote that his apology for his posts had been a “watershed moment” for him, and that “Despite the absence of ill-intent, there was simply no justification for these posts. While I may try to console myself that my poor choice of words was not as bad as some of the naked antisemitic insults I have become aware of, the reality is that what I think does not matter. It’s the impact that counts.”

On 12th June 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism wrote to Mr Hanvey following the publication of his article in the Jewish News, asking about his endorsements of the comments in [3] and [4]. He replied: “The past six months have been an important journey and learning process for me…I’ve developed my understanding of antisemitism in all its forms. I am now absolutely clear that, however unintentional, the social media posts I shared two years ago were antisemitic in nature. I have apologised unequivocally and I was grateful for the opportunity to reflect on my journey in a recent article for Jewish News. While I cannot undo mistakes in the past, I have learned from them and I am committed to using my role as an MP to challenge and promote a better understanding of antisemitism, racism and intolerance of all forms.”

The endorsements in [3] and [4] were subsequently found to have been quietly deleted.

In July 2020, Campaign Against Antisemitism wrote to Mr Hanvey about the full matter above, but he did not respond.

However, a spokesperson for the Scottish National Party wrote: “Antisemitism has no place in society and no place in the Scottish National Party. Swift action was taken when Mr Hanvey’s historic comment emerged, and he was subsequently suspended by the Member Conduct Committee. Included in the sanction was a requirement to undergo training, and to engage with Jewish representative bodies. Mr Hanvey has been clear that he learned a lot from that engagement, most especially that words matter, and he has expressed deep remorse for his lack of understanding of this in the past. The Member Conduct Committee will continue to monitor his social media comments over the coming months.”

On 1st December 2020, it was reported that Mr Hanvey had been selected at the Scottish National Party conference to be a member of the Party’s internal conduct committee. The decision prompted criticism, with a senior SNP member reportedly describing the move as “really not a good look.”


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 2nd December 2020.