Jewish Labour Movement disavow party's Peterborough election candidate over anti-semitism row

Posted On: 
3rd June 2019

Labour has been plunged into a fresh anti-semitism row after the Jewish Labour Movement withdrew their support for the party's Peterborough by-election candidate.

Lisa Forbes is fighting to win back the Peterborough seat
Credit: 
PA

Lisa Forbes was forced to apologise over the weekend after it emerged she had liked a Facebook post earlier this year which claimed Theresa May had a "Zionist Slave Masters agenda".

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It was also discovered that Ms Forbes signed a letter calling on Labour bosses to reject the adoption of the International Holocaust Rememberance Alliance definition of anti-semitism.

Ms Forbes, who is battling to win the seat in Thursday's by-election after previous Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was forced out after being jailed for perverting the course of justice, vowed to "deepen her understanding" after the posts were uncovered by freelance reporter Iggy Ostanin

But in a major blow for the candidate, the Jewish Labour Movement vowed not to campaign for her as they accused her of "anti-Jewish racism".

On Sunday, JLM said they were "angry and disappointed - but not surprised" that Ms Forbes had been selected for the seat despite repeated warnings to Labour bosses to better vet their candidates.

But in a further statement on Monday, the group added: "Further to our last statement, and those of our fellow organisations within the Jewish community concerning the revelations this weekend over the Labour Party's candidate in Peterborough engaging in anti-Jewish racism, and her rejection of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, JLM will not be campaigning in the by-election.

"To do so would be inconsistent with the views of our members, who have understandably and clearly called for a culture of zero tolerance to antisemitism within the Labour Party."

The move comes after leading Jewish groups, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council, hit back at Ms Forbes saying her claim that she didn't see the words on the posts "stretches the limits of incredulity".

They added: "We are fed up hearing that Labour opposes anti-Semitism while repeatedly hearing excuses that its members accidentally missed the racism that was staring them in the face.

"Unless Labour disowns Lisa Forbes as a candidate, it will only confirm the party's shameful descent into the racist mess for which they are now being investigated by the EHRC."

Ms Forbes, who was joined by Jeremy Corbyn at a campaign rally on Saturday, has vowed to undertake anti-semitism training.

She said: "I’m sorry. I have engaged in social media posts in error and realise it was wrong and have wholeheartedly apologised. I condemn antisemitism and have committed to work with the community to deepen my understanding of antisemitism, to challenge antisemitism wherever it occurs.”

The Labour Party have been approached for comment.