An investigation is set to take place after the leader of Greenwich Council referred a fellow Labour councillor to the party’s national office over a series of tweets.
Council leader Danny Thorpe said on Thursday that he had flagged fellow councillor David Stanley’s social media activity after tweets emerged which showed Stanley seemingly expressing support for a left-wing group and a controversial MP who was suspended after a party row over the handling of antisemitism complaints.
The tweets, which date as far back as 2018, include sharing a petition from Labour Against the Witchhunt, which pushes for an end to what it perceives as politically motivated allegations of antisemitism in the party.
The petition, an open letter to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, stated “we are seriously worried about the current climate in the Labour Party, where any criticism of the actions of the state of Israel is now immediately conflated with antisemitism”.
“What we are seeing is a cynical alliance between those who wish to deflect criticism of Israel and Zionism, and the right-wing in the Labour Party and the news media, who oppose your wider politics,” the letter read.
Stanley also retweeted posts with the hashtag #IStandWithChrisWilliamson, referring to former Labour MP Chris Williamson, who resigned from the party last year after being suspended for his comments about the party’s response to criticism over its handling of allegations of anti-Semitism within the party.
Thorpe responded to the thread by thanking the Twitter user “for bringing this to my attention”.
Thank you for bringing this to my attention. As a council, we are completely committed to fighting antisemitism. I have passed this information onto the national party.
— Dan Thorpe (@DanLThorpe) June 25, 2020
“As a council, we are completely committed to fighting antisemitism. I have passed this information onto the national party,” he wrote.
When contacted for additional comment, Thorpe directed the Local Democracy Reporting Service to a Labour party spokesman, who declined to comment.
Stanley, who has represented the ward of Kidbrooke with Hornfair since 2014, said he had “no time” for antisemitic conspiracy theories and that he supported a “fair and rigorous” disciplinary process for those accused of making antisemitic comments.
“I have always condemned antisemitism in the strongest possible terms and fully supported Greenwich Council signing up to the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition,” he told the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
“I have no time for antisemitic conspiracy theories but recognise that criticism of the state of Israel can sometimes be wrongly conflated with antisemitism. I support a fair and rigorous procedure for those Labour members who are subject to disciplinary measures due to alleged antisemitic comments.”
Earlier this year, councillors from across parties came together in Woolwich Town Hall to support an urgent motion condemning racism in the wake of a spate of antisemitic graffiti attacks around the borough.
And last year the authority voted in favour of adopting the internationally-recognised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism following an “alarming rise in antisemitic tropes”.
The referral on Wednesday came just hours before national Labour party leader Keir Starmer sacked shadow cabinet member Rebecca Long Bailey from her post after she retweeted an interview which Sir Keir said contained an antisemitic conspiracy theory.
Lachlan Leeming is the Local Democracy Reporter for Greenwich. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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