Labour provokes fury by promoting ex-MP Jim Sheridan, who said Jews worked with 'Blairite plotters'

Appointment described as evidence of Labour’s “institutional” problem with antisemitism


Jim Sheridan, who had been suspended from the party for saying he had lost "respect and empathy" for British Jews over the party's antisemitism crisis, has been appointed deputy leader of Renfrewshire Labour.

The move to promote the ex-MP has been condemned by members of the Jewish community, with one saying it is evidence of Labour’s “institutional” problem with antisemitism.

Mr Sheridan, who represented Paisley and Renfrewshire North until losing his seat in 2015, was suspended in August for writing that he had lost "respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering… due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party".

In January, members of the community were outraged when he announced his suspension had been lifted and he was to face no further action.

At the time he extended "sincere apologies to the Jewish community" but added: "My accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership".

Mark Gardner, director of communications, at the Community Security Trust said: “This is yet another example of Labour’s institutional antisemitism problem. Jim Sheridan wrote about ‘the Jewish community’ and ‘their Blairite plotters’.

“The use of the word ‘their’ implies that these supposed plotters are under the control of Jews, that they are somehow ours.

“He said that our Jewish community is doing this to the ‘long suffering people of Britain’, which implies that we Jews are not British: and act against the interests of those who are genuinely British.

“Not only was Mr Sheridan readmitted, he is now promoted. We know where we stand with today’s Labour Party.” 

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Sheridan celebrated his new appointment.

The Labour councillor said: “I’m looking forward to it, it’s another challenge. I’m hoping to fulfil the role to its expectations.

“I’m quite honoured that the group voted for me and felt I was capable.”

He said he was “cleared” of allegations of antisemitism by the party and that “people’s opinions are is entirely up to them.

“I can’t influence them, nor do I want to influence their opinions.”

Independent councillor Andy Doig questioned the logic behind the departure of the previous deputy leader of Renfrewshire Labour, Derek Bibby, whom he claimed had been sacked. However, Labour group leader Eddie Devine has denied that suggestion.

Mr Doig said: “Derek and I were elected on the same day and, despite having had our differences, he is, nonetheless, an articulate voice for the Labour cause both in the chamber and out in the wider community.

“His sacking makes as much sense as Richard Leonard sacking Anas Sarwar, another politician who was able to hold the SNP to account.

“Renfrewshire Labour has definitely lost its way and is clearly struggling.”

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