A former MP who was suspended from Labour for accusing Jews of conspiring with “Blairite plotters” to destroy the party has been appointed deputy leader of Renfrewshire council’s Labour group.
Jim Sheridan, MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North until 2015, had been suspended for posting the comments in August 2018 on social media, but the suspension was quietly lifted in January.
The former MP, who has been a local councillor since 2017, had written: “For all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering. No longer, due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long-suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.”
Now sitting as a Labour Party representative at a council board, Mr Sheridan said of his suspension in comments reported by The Herald: “I was cleared, so what people’s opinions are is entirely up to them. I can’t influence them, nor do I want to influence their opinions.”
Members of the Jewish community have condemned the appointment, with Mark Gardner from the Community Security Trust telling The Jewish Chronicle: “This is yet another example of Labour’s institutional antisemitism problem. Jim Sheridan wrote about ‘the Jewish community’ and ‘their Blairite plotters’.
“The use of the word ‘their’ implies that these supposed plotters are under the control of Jews, that they are somehow ours. He said that our Jewish community is doing this to the ‘long suffering people of Britain’, which implies that we Jews are not British: and act against the interests of those who are genuinely British. Not only was Mr Sheridan readmitted, he is now promoted. We know where we stand with today’s Labour Party.”
This is just the latest in a series of incidents and allegations that have given rise to accusations that the Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has become institutionally antisemitic, with the head of Campaign Against Antisemitism, Gideon Falter, calling Mr Corbyn an “existential threat” to the Jewish community.
In May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) announced that it had launched an investigation into alleged antisemitism in Labour, specifically if the party had “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”.