Scott Nelson, a Labour Party activist with almost 50,000 followers on Twitter, was reportedly “removed” from the Labour Party over a series of tweets about “Jewish companies” in 2015, but he has now told Campaign Against Antisemitism that he can apply to rejoin the Party “whether you like it or not”.
In a conversation on Twitter on 8th October, he was asked by another Twitter user: “Still expelled from the party, Scott?”. Mr Nelson responded “Nope”, prompting Campaign Against Antisemitism to approach him for clarification.
Now, Mr Nelson has claimed that he was not expelled over antisemitism at all, despite indications to the contrary. He told us that his membership was terminated because of his opposition to the selection of a Council candidate which he considered to be motivated by nepotism.
Yet Mr Nelson, who is also known as “Socialist Voice” and describes himself on his Twitter profile as a “Jeremy Corbyn supporter”, was “removed” from the Party after he tweeted about the “Jewish blood” of companies including Marks and Spencer and Tesco in 2015. On 17th December 2015, he tweeted: “Deaths of workers abroad caused by appalling conditions working for Jewish companies”. On 18th December 2015, he tweeted: “Jewish ancestors created those companies. These companies have Jewish blood. My ancestors were Irish, so I have Irish blood”. He added that: “Pointing out the Jewish ancestors of Tesco and M&S and the human rights abuses of workers abroad doesn’t make me an antisemite.”
On the same day, the Labour Party Press Team tweeted in response to a complaint about Mr Nelson’s tweets: “The tweets are unacceptable and he has already been removed from the Party”. A letter of the same date from the Labour Party, shown to us by Mr Nelson, informed him that “Comments posted to social media by you have given us grounds to believe that you do not share Labour’s aims and values.”
Mr Nelson’s claims that he was not removed from the Party due to antisemitism are further cast into doubt due to the statement that he himself issued on 19th December 2015, in which he wrote: “Today I received written confirmation from the Labour Party informing me that my membership has been terminated. I will be lodging an appeal on Monday. Having thought about this matter, I accept that I used clumsy and inappropriate wording concerning the Jewish heritage of Tesco and M&S by mentioning Jewish blood and my comments about Blairites being purged for disloyalty to Jeremy Corbyn.”
In respons to our enquiries, Mr Nelson told us: “My tweets about Jewish blood were badly worded and were taken out of context, I did not intend to cause offence to the Jewish community. However, my tweet depicting the star of David with a swastika was not only stupid, it was disrespectful and I accept that it did cause offence…My other tweets likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to the actions of Nazis were in response to horrific reports that Palestinian children had been burned alive, women had been raped and tortured and innocent men, women and children had been shot dead by IDF soldiers. Most of these reports were by Middle Eastern news sources; they were not being widely reported by Western media sources. Similar barbaric actions were committed by the Nazis; however, I am not suggesting that IDF soldiers are Nazis and nor am I comparing Israel to Nazis. I have Jewish friends and I know many Jewish people and they are horrified at the atrocities being committed by both Israel and Palestine.”
Notwithstanding his attempts to apologise, Mr Nelson has continued to cause offence. For example, he has accused what he calls “Israel supporters” or “the Israel Lobby” of concocting allegations of antisemitism, and he has used Nazi-era antisemitic metaphors such as “vermin” and “parasites” to refer to those who complain about antisemitism.
For example, on 3rd October 2016, he published a blog post accusing Israel of actions “similar to the crimes committed by the Nazis during the Second World War” and arguing that antisemitism in Britain is “partly caused by people who are falsely accusing others of antisemitism.” On 9th January 2017, he published a blog post alleging that “the Israel Lobby were [sic] behind the witch hunts against Jeremy Corbyn, his supporters and people like me”, describing “pro-Israel supporters” as “scum – and lower than vermin”and stating that “the Israel Lobby… have [sic] one objective and that is to take down Jeremy Corbyn.” Three days later, he republished an anonymous defence of the Holocaust denier Alison Chabloz and — instead of condemning it — approvingly stated that it “sums up the Israel Lobby and the influence and control it has over Britain’s press.”
On 4th April 2017, Mr Nelson responded to statements by the leader of Labour’s Jewish grouping with the words: “I’d sooner have Ken Livingstone in the Labour Party than these [sic] bunch of toxic parasites who think they can control people’s lives.” Two days afterwards, he published a blog post in support of Mr Livingstone, alleging that “The Israel Lobby uses antisemitism to destroy people’s lives” and “will stoop to any level to vilify and falsely accuse a person of antisemitism.” In that same post, he also insisted that “Ken should not have to apologise for quoting a historical fact and nor should he be silenced by the Israel Lobby, Blairites and by people who found his comments to be offensive” and declared: “I stand in solidarity with Ken Livingstone and I will continue to defend him because he has done absolutely nothing wrong, but the people who are vilifying and attacking him for quoting a historical fact are lower than vermin.”
Ironically, the best account of the matter comes from Mr Nelson himself, because Baroness Chakrabarti’s whitewash report into antisemitism in the Labour Party introduced procedures to keep the outcome of any disciplinary procedures secret.
Mr Nelson has told us that he may now rejoin the Labour Party, writing: “I can reapply to rejoin the party later this year and may consider rejoining next year — whether you like it or not.” He may well be right, as following other readmissions, we have no reason to expect that Mr Nelson will be treated differently.