Two Labour councillors in Cumbria are reportedly being investigated over alleged antisemitic comments that they posted online.
The investigations into the two Copeland Borough Council councillors – Tom Higgins of Egremont ward and Graham Calvin of Moor Row and Bigrigg ward – follow the expulsion of former Councillor Bill Kirkbride from the Labour Party over “offensive” social media posts.
It is reported that a Facebook account appearing to belong to Cllr Higgins referred to Israel and its “co-conspirators in the USA”, while Cllr Calvin apparently made a comment about Jewish donors to the Labour Party, although he reportedly told the BBC that his remarks were making a point about party funding and were not targeted at Jewish people.
A Labour spokesman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures.” The Copeland Labour group reportedly said that it could not comment on individual cases.
Apparently a third investigation is also underway, into Cllr Dave Banks, who objected in a Council meeting in February to the adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by the local authority, saying that “antisemitism is not an attack on Jews or the Jewish faith; it is an attack on the Israeli state.” He did, however, vote in favour of adoption and has since apologised for his comments, apparently telling a later Council meeting that he had gotten them “all wrong”.
Copeland Borough Council adopted the Definition but without explicitly including the integral examples.
Campaign Against Antisemitism recently published its first Audit of Local Authorities, documenting the campaign for widespread adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism by local authorities.
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
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.
Image Credit: Copeland Borough Council