EXCL Labour criticised after councillor accused of sharing anti-Semitic posts allowed to remain in party

Posted On: 
21st November 2018

Labour bosses have come under fire after allowing a councillor accused of sharing anti-Semitic messages on social media to remain in the party, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Mr Jones shared some of the posts during his time as Mayor of Shropshire.
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Shropshire Councillor Ioan Jones was placed under investigation in July for sharing a Facebook post comparing the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.

But the party has been accused of "making a mockery" of its commitment to tackling anti-Jewish abuse after it emerged that he been allowed to remain a party member four months after the probe into his conduct was launched.

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PoliticsHome revealed how the former Shrewsbury Mayor endorsed posts claiming the ongoing row over anti-Semitism in the party had been "manufactured" by the "Israel lobby".

During his time as mayor, Mr Jones also reposted an image online about investment banker Jacob Rothschild, claiming that his family had "financed both sides of every war since Napoleon".

In December last year, the Labour councillor posted an image on his public Facebook page which shows a picture of Mr Netanyahu underneath an image of Hitler with the tag line: "What’s the difference?"

The image also appears to portray the Israeli leader giving a Nazi salute.

The same Facebook image was shared earlier this year by one of the party’s minority officers, Dorian Bartley - leading to his immediate suspension by Labour bosses.

'CONCERNING'

The decision not to suspend Councillor Jones was condemned by Labour MP Ian Austin, who said the comments were a clear breach of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism which the party fully adopted in September after an outcry.

"No doubt Councillor Jones will say he is simply speaking up for Palestinians, but it is perfectly possible to criticise Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli government without comparing them to Hitler and Nazis who tried to exterminate the Jewish people," he told PoliticsHome.

"He’s shared material which is clearly anti-Semitic, and which clearly contravenes the standard IHRA definition of anti-Semitism which both the Labour Party and Shropshire County Council have signed up to. Both organisations have made clear this is unacceptable."

Euan Philipps, spokesperson for the Labour Against Anti-Semitism campaign group, added: "Councillor Ioan Jones should have been suspended as soon as these posts came to light.

"They appear to be quite clearly anti-Semitic in nature and it is concerning that immediate action wasn’t taken by [Labour general secretary] Jennie Formby and her compliance team."

He added: "Unfortunately, this is not the only example where Labour has failed to take action against alleged racism by its members. We have recorded over 100 examples of serious cases of anti-Semitism which have been dismissed or ignored by Labour over the last six months...

"Jeremy Corbyn’s rhetoric of swifter action on Labour anti-Semitism rings hollow in light of his continued inability to address this ongoing crisis. It is a failure that only further underlines the institutional nature of this issue, and the incompetence of Mr Corbyn in dealing with it.”

Meanwhile, Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: "Labour’s shocking inaction on this appalling case makes a total mockery of its partial adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

“Sadly, it simply confirms what we already knew about the utter flimsiness of Jeremy Corbyn’s supposed commitment to tackle antisemitism in Labour’s ranks.”

A Labour source said the party would not comment on cases but confirmed an investigation was ongoing.