Campaign Against Antisemitism is calling for the Labour Party and the Co-operative Party MP Barry Sheerman to lose both parties’ whip over a tweet posted this morning.
Mr Sheerman, who has been the MP for Huddersfield since 1979 tweeted: “Apparently there has been a bit of a run on silver shekels!” After Twitter users asked what he was talking about, he posted another tweet, seemingly referring to the first, saying: “Apparently Richard Desmond & Philip Green were on the original list for seats in the House of Lords!”
As Twitter users denounced him, Mr Sheerman later deleted the tweets and instead tweeted, hours later: “I apologise for my earlier tweet. I did not intend the meaning which has upset many, and I am very sorry for the upset and offense I have caused. I will think more carefully in future and will reflect on this…I have fought antisemitism all my political life & have been a Labour Friend of Israel since joining as a student at the LSE I am deeply sorry that my clumsy tweet has caused offence.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “Barry Sheerman’s first reaction on hearing that two prominent Jewish businessmen supposedly missed out on peerages is to think about ‘silver shekels’, alluding in one fell swoop to both classic and modern antisemitic tropes about Jews corrupting politics with money and being more loyal to Israel than their own countries.
“Mr Sheerman must immediately face disciplinary proceedings and lose the whip of both the Labour and Co-operative Parties. Sir Keir Starmer also has a more fundamental question to answer about his parliamentary party: how long are Labour MPs capable of going without making brazenly antisemitic statements? Labour’s antisemitism problem apparently goes well beyond the Party’s far-left contingent.”
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.