Shaf Mahmood, who was due to stand as a Conservative candidate in the Redvales ward, saw his endorsement from the Party reportedly revoked last week after it emerged that he has tweeted, in 2017, that “Jews r at it again”. According to a report in the Jewish News, Mr Mahmood, who had backed George Galloway’s Workers’ Party in the Batley and Spen by-election last year, had allegedly also shared a social media post which labelled Sir Keir Starmer a “Zionist”.
That revocation came a day after another Conservative candidate, Sham Raja, who was the Conservatives’ candidate in the Sedgley ward, was also dropped after numerous historic and inflammatory social media posts were uncovered, including one allegedly comparing Israeli footballers to “assassins”. The tweets were reported in the Jewish Telegraph.
Another Conservative, Shahbaz Mahmood Arif, the candidate for Bury West, reportedly shared an inflammatory article from the controversial far-left website, The Canary. He had been selected by the local party after a young Jewish councillor had been – apparently inexplicably – deselected a few weeks ago. Another prospective Conservative candidate who was unsuccessful in his bid for selection feared that he was blocked due to his sympathies for the Jewish community and pro-Israel views, which Bury Conservatives denied.
Concerns have also been raised about Mazhar Aslam, another Conservative candidate in Sedgley, over his social media activity.
In a statement, Bury Conservatives said: “Following certain social media posts being brought to our attention yesterday made by two of the candidates for Sedgley Ward the Association has investigated the matter and spoken to both candidates. Mr. Sham Raja no longer has the endorsement of Bury Conservative Party in this election. Mr Mazhar Aslam continues to be a Conservative Candidate. His explanation was that the single post complained of was not antisemitic in nature although he understood some would not agree with the contents of his post. He apologised and undertook to be more careful with the use of his language in this sensitive area in the future. His explanation and apology were accepted. We also wish to make clear that Dr Shadman Zaman was not confirmed as a Besses Ward candidate because of his failure to comply with instructions regarding electoral law and Party guidance and not because of any of his expressed views.”
Nick Jones, the leader of Bury Conservatives, said: “I am appalled at such ignorance regarding the State of Israel and I have asked the Conservative Association to investigate these matters immediately. As a Party we accept different views but it’s how these views expressed when the line is crossed is our challenge and investigation must be robust. As these statements have come to the attention of the association, I welcome that they have been dealt with robustly and on the day of them arising. The Conservative Council Group on Bury Council are friends of Israel and we fully support the IHRA [International] Definition of Antisemitism.”
Last year, a Conservative councillor in Bury who had the Party whip removed after he allegedly made antisemitic comments in a job interview was reinstated by the Party. Cllr Robert (Bob) Caserta was found to have breached the Code of Conduct for Councillors and Other Voting Representatives four times when he appeared before the Standards Sub-Committee over comments apparently made during an interview to recruit a senior officer at the Council in July 2019, when Cllr Caserta is alleged to have referred to “grot spots” in Sedgley and said that it would be difficult to communicate with residents “unless you are able to speak Hebrew”.
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.
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