Tory Party accused of 'inaction' over antisemitism investigations into MPs

EXCLUSIVE Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tells the JC: 'People rightly expect politicians to be held to the very highest standards.'


The Conservatives have been accused of “inaction” over investigations into serious claims of antisemitism by MPs, councillors and activists within the party.

Last December, days before the general election, the Tories announced they had begun investigations into three parliamentary candidates over allegations of anti-Jewish racism.

But the JC has learned there has been growing concern among a number of organisations involved in the fight against antisemitism over the progress of the investigation into the trio – two of whom were subsequently elected as Conservative MPs.

The Board of Deputies is due to meet Tory Party chairwoman Amanda Milling at the end of this month – where it is understood the issue of the investigations will be raised.

In other worrying incidents over recent months, the Tory MP for Bolton West last week apologised for sharing a poem on social media which included references to Rothschild conspiracy theories.

And last month a councillor, who also stood as a parliamentary candidate in December,  was readmitted to the party after expressing regret over posts he made questioning aspects of the Holocaust.

In April, the Tories suspended an activist in Scotland who had promoted antisemitic posts suggesting “Jews are behind bestiality brothels.”

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner told the JC on Monday: “People rightly expect politicians to be held to the very highest standards.

“There is no place in our politics for bigotry and discrimination of any kind, and no excuse for inaction.

“We must all do everything we can to eradicate the scourge of antisemitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism form our political parties and society.”

A candidate in the Tory marginal seat of Hastings and Rye in the last election, Sally-Ann Hart sparked anger last December when it emerged she had shared a video with an image apparently implying that the billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, controlled the EU, and had also ‘liked’ a Nazi slogan “Ein Reich” on Facebook.

Lee Anderson, who successfully stood for  election as the MP for Ashfield, also faced an investigation by the party over his membership of  a Facebook group in which Soros conspiracy theories have been promoted and which includes supporters of the far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

Meanwhile Richard Short, the unsuccessful parliamentary  candidate for St Helens South and Whiston was also revealed to be under investigation for a social media post asking whether the journalist Melanie Phillips  was more loyal to Israel than to Britain.

Senior Minister Michael Gove said at the time the allegations of antisemitism were “a cause for concern”,  adding, “it is important that when allegations are made they are properly and promptly investigated”.

In January  the Conservative MP Andrew Percy, who co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism, told the Commons: "To those on my own side I want to say—I am sure that this does not apply to anybody present—that I have no truck with anybody engaging in Soros conspiracy theories, as some regrettably have done, including at the recent election. 

“The Nazis treated Jews as vermin but also alleged that they had a plan for world domination. 

“Sadly, the Soros conspiracy theories we see, which are prevalent on the far-right of politics, are simply an updated version of that disgusting ideology. 

“Using George Soros’s Jewish heritage and puppet-master imagery is antisemitic.”

Eight months after the Tories announced the investigations into the three parliamentary candidates, the JC has learned of growing frustration over the progress of the probes – and concern over other incidents of antisemitism within the party.

With the government understandably concentrating on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, there are even fears amongst some that the investigations may never be concluded.

One Tory source told the JC that they understood the investigations “were happening” although they were unsure exactly what stage the inquiries had reached.

In recent months there have also been other troubling incidents in the party.

Last week Bolton West MP Chris Green apologised for promoting a poem on social media called ‘The Right To Hate’ which included references to the “Rothschilds” and the “New World Order”.

He posted a clip on Twitter of controversial comedian Chris McGlade reading out a section of the poem, captioning his tweet,  "If you love poetry, this is worth a listen".

Although the segment  of the poem uploaded by Mr Green did not contain specific antisemitic tropes, he was immediately challenged over his decision to promote Mr McGlade’s work.

In the poem, which is dedicated to “all those globalists out there”, Mr McGlade challenges suggestions he is an antisemite.

He says, "The Rothschilds are the richest banking family in this world and that’s got nothing to do with them being Jewish and everything to do with them being multi-billionaires who really do influence the dollar, pound and yen.”

Apologising, Mr Green wrote: "Antisemitism comes in many forms, some more obvious than others. I tweeted a section of a poem that in other parts referenced ‘New World Order’ & ‘Rothschilds’.

"I should have been more careful about what and who I was tweeting. I offer a full & unreserved apology & have deleted the tweet."

In June, the Tories readmitted a councillor who was suspended last year for posts that contained both antisemitism and Islamophobia .

Ryan Houghton, an Aberdeen councillor, was suspended last year from the Conservatives after writing on an internet forum in 2013 under the alias Razgriz that there was “no credible evidence to suggest the Holocaust did not happen” but that “I do find some of the events fabricated, and exegarated [sic] in some cases.”

At the time he had been a Tory general election candidate for the Aberdeen North constituency.

Mr Houghton later said: “The comments which led to my suspension were isolated and took place nearly a decade ago.

“They in no way reflect my political or professional record and I find prejudice of any kind abhorrent.

“I will continue to work and represent my constituents to the best of my ability.”

A spokesman said that a committee had taken into account Houghton’s “unreserved acceptance  over what he had done when much younger was wrong”, adding that he understood the “consequence of his actions”.

In April a Scottish Tory activist, Lorraine Cullen, was suspended from the party for Islamophobia and promoting antisemitic posts suggesting Jews were behind “bestiality brothels”.

The JC has contacted the Conservative Party for comment on the progress over the investigations into Ms Hart, Mr Anderson and Mr Short, but has not received any response.

A spokesperson for Ms Hart said it would be inappropriate to comment on an investigation into the Hastings MP  given that was ongoing.


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