Labour's candidate for Leicester East is blocking Jewish Labour members asking why she defended Ken Livingstone

Claudia Webbe defended Ken Livingstone in 2006 after he likened a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard



Labour's new candidate for the safe seat of Leicester East has been blocking Jewish Labour Members on Twitter after they asked her why she defended Ken Livingstone after he likened a Jewish reporter to a concentration camp guard.

Claudia Webbe, an Islington councillor and close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, was announced as the candidate in Keith Vaz's former seat on Tuesday..

Stephane Savary, national vice chair of the Jewish Labour Movement said he was contacted by local JLM members and told Ms Webbe "was refusing to answer questions regarding Mr Livingstone and was blocking Jewish voters on Twitter.

“I have tried to engage with her but was then blocked too.” Mr Savary said.

“It is quite extraordinary that a member of Labour’s NEC and candidate for the Labour party refuses to engage with Jewish members of the Labour Party.

“As the Labour Party is under investigation by the EHRC for antisemitism, I was expecting better from Ms Webbe.

“Unfortunately, her behaviour demonstrates that the current leadership of the party is not interested in engaging with the Jewish community.”

Ms Webbe had defended her record on antisemitism in a Twitter exchange with actress and antisemitism campaigner Tracy Ann Oberman, whom Ms Webbe ultimately blocked.

She told the actress she had “a long record of work in the anti-racist movement, including my positive work" with the Board of Deputies in 1996.

She added: “I do not tolerate antisemitism of any kind. I have worked hard over many years tackling poverty, injustice and inequality.”

Board of Deputires President Marie van der Zyl said: “When accused of a troubling attitude to recognising antisemitism, it is not a defence to hide behind something done almost a quarter of a century ago with a local representative of the Board of Deputies.

“A number of actions taken by Ms Webbe speak for themselves, including her 2006 defence of Ken Livingstone when he compared a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard, and her 2008 appearance on Press TV, when she suggested that Barack Obama’s campaign might be in the ‘hold’ of Israel, citing the ‘financing’ of that campaign.”

Earlier this year, Ms Webbe also defended the expelled Marc Wadsworth in an interview on Russia Today.

In an interview broadcast after the local elections in May, Ms Webbe said that Mr Wadsworth, who was expelled from Labour after he challenged Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth at the launch event of the Chakrabarti inquiry into antisemitism, was “demonised” by the media, big business and the political elite.

In 2006, Ms Webbe wrote a letter to The Guardian, saying Mr Livingstone's four-week suspension as London Mayor “smacked in the face of true democracy”.

She added: “His history of work in the anti-racist movement is unquestionable.”

Ms Webbe served on the executive of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy alongside Pete Willsman, the senior Labour member whose rant about British Jews being "Trump fanatics" was exposed by the JC.

JLM said Ms Webbe’s selection was part of Labour’s continued attempts to “select candidates with a dodgy track record on defending antisemitism”.

In a statement, it said: “Claudia Webbe defended Ken Livingstone and as chair of the party’s disciplinary body promoted the view that elites were making false allegations against Jeremy Corbyn."

JLM added: “From Gorden Nardell to Claudia Webbe, the figures who’ve enabled our discrimination are being rewarded with seats.”

Ms Webbe was selected to replace Mr Vaz as the Labour candidate in the seat. He won with a majority of 22,428 votes at the last General Election in 2017.

The JC approached Ms Webbe for comment.

UPDATE: This story was updated to say Marc Wadsworth "challenged" MP Ruth Smeeth. It previously said he "heckled her.

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