A Labour councillor has reportedly resigned from the Party in order to defend herself against antisemitism accusations, leaving Crawley Borough Council with no overall control.
Karen Sudan will now sit as an independent on both West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council, leaving Labour and the Conservatives with seventeen councillors each on Crawley Borough Council, such that Labour no longer controls the local authority.
The antisemitism allegations reportedly turn on three tweets that Cllr Sudan posted. In one tweet, from 2017, Cllr Sudan declared that she was opposed to “all kinds of racism” but was blocking a group of Labour antisemitism activists from interacting with her on the social media platform.
A second tweet, from 2018, apparently accused the media of being “too busy making up and/or exaggerating stories about antisemitism in the Labour Party” to worry about other forms of racism. This tweet was sent during the summer of 2018 when Labour was deciding whether to adopt the International Definition of Antisemitism and various antisemitism scandals involving Jeremy Corbyn were uncovered.
The third tweet, from earlier this year, shared a link to an article titled ‘Reject the Ten Pledges’, alluding to ten pledges that a Jewish charity was asking Labour leadership candidates to make to demonstrate their commitment to fighting antisemitism in the Party. The article apparently claimed that the notion that Labour had an antisemitism problem had been “widely debunked” and described the ten pledges as “politically motivated weaponisation of antisemitism to attack the Left and the Palestine solidarity movement”.
Cllr Sudan, who has been a member of the Labour Party for 50 years, insisted that she is “not an antisemite”, described the evidence as “pathetic”, and claimed that if she remained a member of the Party, she would “have to keep quiet” about the allegations during an investigation to avoid being suspended, so “the only way I could do that and stop the gossip and the maligning stuff that would be around it was to resign from the Party and put it out there so that people can see how stupid and ridiculous it is.”
In a statement, Peter Lamb, Labour’s leader on the council, denied that the complaint had come from one of Cllr Sudan’s Labour colleagues, saying: “I think she thinks it’s me but I’m not an idiot. If we were going to put in a complaint against someone, we’d wait until the end of the year when you get the chance at the local elections to replace them with someone else.” It is disconcerting that complaints about racism might only be submitted with electoral considerations in mind.
Bizarrely, Mr Lamb reportedly added: “Reading through the text of what was submitted, it looks very professionally written to my mind – which rather removes anyone in the Labour group.”
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.