A candidate for the British Labour party in the upcoming national election has stepped down over controversial comments against Israel, British media reported Thursday night.
Kate Ramsden, of the Scottish district of Gordon, was facing an internal probe in the party and possible sanctions after seeming to draw a parallel between atrocities against Jews during the Holocaust and the Jewish state’s actions towards Palestinians.
In a blog post first reported by the Jewish Chronicle, Ramsden said: “To me, the Israeli state is like an abused child who becomes an abusive adult.
“Like child abuse, it has to stop… As we intervene with child abusers, the international community needs to intervene with Israel.”
In another post, the Chronicle reported, Ramsden claimed accusations of anti-Semitism within the party were “orchestrated by the wealthy establishment.”
Labour said it had been made aware of the posts before the Chronicle reported them and had launched an investigation. It had also called Ramsden in for an interview. Following the publication Ramsden announced she was stepping down.
“We took immediate action to have Kate Ramsden’s candidacy reconsidered in light of the material that we found,” a Labour source told the Guardian. “Staff in Labour HQ found these posts when conducting extra due diligence checks… The party took swift and robust action on this matter.”
Earlier this week the Chronicle reported on another Labour candidate, Zarah Sultana, who in 2015 tweeted that she would “celebrate” the deaths of several politicians, including former British prime minister Tony Blair and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Sultana, who the Chronicle reported is a supporter of the boycott movement against Israel and has been critical of the Jewish state on social media, has since apologized.
The Labour Party is facing accusations of anti-Semitism involving its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has come under scrutiny for his alleged failure to stop the hate speech and for past actions in which he appeared to ignore, condone, or encourage it.
Following Corbyn’s takeover of the party in 2015, hate speech against Jews and Israel began proliferating in Labour’s ranks. Thousands of incidents have been recorded both by internal Labour groups like Labour Against Anti-Semitism, and external ones, including the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.
Some of the accusations stem from Corbyn’s past support for pro-Palestinian causes and refusal to adopt a universally accepted definition of anti-Semitism — a position Corbyn has since partly revised.
A resignation and a defection this week are forcing Corbyn to confront two scourges hounding his party as it tries to unseat UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: anti-Semitism and Brexit.
Labour is hoping to regain power for the first time in nearly a decade when voters go to the polls on December 12 to help settle the crisis caused by Britain’s delayed divorce from the EU.
It was looking like an uphill slog from the start: Corbyn has some of the worst approval ratings of any leader of the opposition on record and his century-old party is badly behind in the polls.
Yet he almost performed a come-from-behind miracle in the last general election in 2017. The veteran socialist is a renowned campaigner who seems to stir to life during election season.
He will need now need to recover from another tough start.
The first blow came when Tom Watson — a champion of party centrists who oppose Brexit and criticize Corbyn’s handling of repeated anti-Semitism scandals — stepped down as deputy leader Wednesday.
Watson said in a letter to Corbyn that his decision was “personal, not political.” But the New Statesman magazine’s political editor Stephen Bush said Watson’s resignation only underscored Labour’s steady creep toward the hard left under Corbyn’s rule.
Things took an uglier turn Thursday when former Labour minister Ian Austin told his local newspaper that Corbyn was “not fit to lead.”
“The Labour Party has been poisoned by racism, extremism and intolerance under Corbyn’s leadership,” Austin told the Express and Star.
Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell pointed to Austin’s appointment in July as a trade envoy to Israel as evidence that he was working for the Conservatives.
“What else do you expect him to do in an election campaign where you’re employed by the Tories,” McDonnell said.
Austin left Labour in February and is now an independent. “I’m not a Tory but I wouldn’t say Boris Johnson is unfit to be our prime minister in the way that I say that about Jeremy Corbyn,” he told BBC radio.
Austin’s anti-Semitism claim was further backed up in an urgent front-page appeal in the Jewish Chronicle to all British citizens.
“The vast majority of British Jews consider Jeremy Corbyn to be an anti-Semite. In the most recent poll, last month, the figure was 87 percent,” the Chronicle wrote.
“We believe that the overwhelming majority of British people abhor racism. We ask only that, when you cast your vote, you act on that,” it said.
JTA contributed to this report.