UK Conservative party probing 3 candidates for anti-Semitism

Labour, facing its own ongoing accusations of institutional anti-Semitism, calls on ruling party to suspend parliamentary hopefuls

Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson gestures, during the first party hustings at the ICC in Birmingham, England, Saturday June 22, 2019. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
Conservative party leadership candidate Boris Johnson gestures, during the first party hustings at the ICC in Birmingham, England, Saturday June 22, 2019. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)

Britain’s ruling Conservative party has opened investigations into three of its own parliamentary candidates over specific allegations of anti-Semtism.

The move Saturday comes just days before the Boris Johnson-led faction will go to the polls, where it will face a Labour party that has been buffeted by ongoing allegations of institutional anti-Semitism.

In a statement, the Conservative Party said that it was committed to “stamping out the scourge of anti-Semitism in our society and supporting our Jewish community.”

“Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong, and the Conservative party takes decisive action to deal with any incidents of hatred, abuse or intimidation,” the statement said, naming the three candidates who were being investigated and the specific allegations against them.

Sally-Ann Hart, running for the constituency of Hastings, shared a video in 2012 with an image implying that Jewish billionaire George Soros controls the European Union, and, separately, liked a Nazi slogan on Facebook.

St Helens South and Whiston candidate Richard Short questioned in a tweet in 2013 whether Jewish journalist Melanie Phillips’s allegiance was to the UK or Israel.

Lee Anderson, running in Ashfield, is said to be a leading member of a Facebook group which promotes conspiracy theories about Soros, a favorite bogeyman of the right.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party addresses party members during the Labour Party Conference at the Brighton Centre in Brighton, England, September 24, 2019. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)

Labour has called for all three candidates to be suspended from the Conservative party.

In response, the Conservatives said, “Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one but there are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behavior, including conditions to undertake training, periods of suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis.”

Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was accused by a party branch of personally engaging in anti-Semitic acts on nine occasions.

The accusation was featured in a damning 53-page report filed by the Labour Jewish Movement, one of the oldest societies affiliated with the party, to the body tasked with probing anti-Semitism within the UK’s main opposition party and its failure to adequately deal with complaints about the matter.

Jewish groups have accused Corbyn, a far-left politician, of allowing a massive rise in anti-Semitism within the ranks of the party that was once considered the natural home of British Jewry. Thousands of cases of alleged hate speech against Jews have been recorded within Labour since 2015, when Corbyn was elected to lead it. The party is currently being formally investigated by the UK’s anti-racism watchdog.

Corbyn himself “has repeatedly associated with, sympathized with and engaged in anti-Semitism,” the report said in an 11-clause section that listed nine such cases.

Much of the worry over Corbyn is spurred by revelations about his record that have emerged since he became Labour leader. These include him describing Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”; defending an anti-Semitic mural in East London; and a seeming willingness to associate with alleged anti-Semites, terrorists, and Holocaust-deniers.

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