Labour frontbencher Steve Reed apologises ‘unreservedly’ for ‘puppet master’ tweet about Jewish Tory donor
The Shadow Communities Secretary came under fir over the “inappropriate” message about businessman Richard Desmond (PA)
Labour frontbencher Steve Reed has apologised “unreservedly” for a tweet describing a Jewish Conservative donor as a “puppet master”.
The Shadow Communities Secretary issued the apology a day after deleting the “inappropriate” message about businessman Richard Desmond.
Mr Desmond has been at the heart of a row over a property development approved by Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick, Mr Reed’s opposite number in Government.
Tweeting at the weekend, Mr Reed said: “Is billionaire former porn-baron Desmond the puppet master for the entire Tory cabinet?”
The message prompted criticism of the Labour MP for using an “age old antisemitic trope”.
And it comes just weeks after new leader Keir Starmer sacked his then-shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an article which wrongly linking Israeli security services to the killing of George Floyd in the United States.
Conservative MP Andrew Percy said: “Alluding to Jews as puppet-masters is an age old antisemitic trope and for a Shadow Cabinet member to use this trope is totally unacceptable.
“If Keir Starmer was serious about tackling antisemitism he would sack Steve Reed on the spot.
“Otherwise the British people will rightly conclude the action taken against Rebecca Long-Bailey last week was done out of political convenience rather than principle.”
Euan Philipps of the Labour Against Anti-Semitism campaign said that while Mr Reed wasn’t an MP with “previous” on anti-Jewish abuse, the puppet-master trope was “hugely ill-advised for a member of a party under investigation” by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
In a statement posted to social media on Monday, Mr Reed said: “I want to apologise unreservedly for the language in the tweet I posted on Saturday.
“It was inappropriate and as soon as I realised my error I deleted it.”
A spokesperson for Sir Keir said: “Steve deleted the tweet and did not mean to cause any offence.”