A Scottish Labour councillor has come under investigation from the Labour Party after appearing to double down on previous inflammatory comments and claiming that former party leader Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the party simply for “expressing free speech.”
Cllr Jim Sheridan made the comments last week during a debate at Renfrewshire Council on the effect on free speech of the recently-passed Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill.
Cllr Sheridan was quoted as saying: “I feel I must make a contribution to this debate about free speech. As someone who was personally attacked for contributing, or making, what I thought was perfectly reasonable comments about antisemitism, I was attacked for free speech.
“And I also include, Provost, the former leader of the Labour Party, who was thrown out of the Labour Party for expressing free speech.”
Cllr Sheridan appeared to be referring to a comment that he posted on his Facebook page in 2018, saying: “For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer due to what they and their blairite [sic] plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.”
He subsequently deleted the post, but, following a complaint, he was suspended by the Labour Party pending investigation. Last year, his suspension was reportedly lifted without explanation or apology from the councillor, who now seems to be doubling down on his previous comments as well as excusing the antisemitic former leader of the Labour Party.
A complaint by Campaign Against Antisemitism against Cllr Sheridan remains outstanding.
A Labour Party spokesman said: “Scottish Labour takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
The Labour Party was found by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.