Kingston Labour council candidate faces inquiry after accusations of anti-Semitism

A Kingston Labour council candidate who has repeatedly commented on Labour’s ongoing anti-Semitism crisis is facing an inquiry after being accused of anti-Semitism on Twitter.

Simon Attwood, described in his Twitter profile as a “business manager, neuroscience geek and blogger”, was accused of anti-Semitism on March 11 by two accounts on the social media site that routinely seek to highlight comments they believe to be offensive.

Twitter users @GnasherJew and @NudderingNudnik re-posted a series of tweets from Attwood’s account that they alleged were evidence of anti-Semitism.

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Following the accusations, Kingston Labour replied to one of @GnasherJew’s tweets, thanking the account for bringing the matter to its attention.

Kingston Labour wrote: “This has now been escalated. To be totally clear there is no tolerance for anti-Semitism in the Kingston and Surbiton Labour Party.

“Thanks again @GnasherJew. You are doing a great service for the Labour Party.”

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Shortly after the exchange, Attwood removed the words “Labour council candidate for @RBKingston” from his Twitter profile, prompting speculation that he had been temporarily suspended.

Attwood's profile before and after the incident
Attwood’s profile before and after the incident

Attwood told the Courier there would be an inquiry into the matter, but declined to comment further. “I will await the result of an inquest into the matter and wouldn’t want to jeopardise that inquest at this time,” he said.

Laurie South, chair of the Kingston and Surbiton Constituency Labour Party, told the Courier: “The matter has been brought to our attention and we are following the proper procedures for cases of alleged racism, sexism, and homophobia.”

The tweets that spurred the accusations – some of which have been deleted but can still be viewed in screenshots reposted by Attwood’s accusers – included comments Attwood had made in defence of Labour regarding the ongoing anti-Semitism crisis the party is facing.

In one tweet, Attwood allegedly wrote: “The majority of the electorate are fully aware that this ‘anti-Semitism’ thing is manufactured for political purpose by Zionist MSM [mainstream media].”

Other tweets the accounts objected to included one stating that “being Jewish is not ‘a race’” and several others appearing to refer to Aesop’s fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf in connection with the current debate about anti-Semitism in the party.

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Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), a charity dedicated to exposing and challenging anti-Semitism, described Attwood’s comments as “worrying”.

A spokesperson for CAA said: “Mr Attwood’s alleged tweets are most concerning, particularly his allegation that this antisemitism ‘thing’ is being manufactured by the Zionist mainstream media for political purpose.

“The reference to Jews secretly controlling the media is one of the most common conspiracy theories about Jews.

“The International Definition of Anti-Semitism, adopted by Labour, refers to ‘the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions’.

A spokesperson for @GnasherJew, described in its Twitter profile as an account “run by ex-Labour Jewish Volunteers”, told the Kingston Courier that Attwood’s alleged comment about race was “disgusting”.

“Legally we are described as a people as our ties go deeper than religion alone,” they said.

“He is denying us the right to self-determination.”

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At the end of March protesters gathered in Parliament Square to demand action over the perceived rise of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Labour Co-operative MP Luciana Berger told the crowd that anti-Semitism had become “more commonplace, conspicuous and corrosive”.

“I tell you that anti-Semitism is very real and it’s alive in the Labour Party,” she said.

Jeremy Corbyn sent a letter of apology to the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council ahead of the protest.

In the letter the Labour leader said he would not “tolerate any form of anti-Semitism that exists in or around our party and movement” and emphasised the need for a “deeper understanding of what constitutes anti-Semitism”.

He wrote: “I recognise that anti-Semitism has surfaced within the Labour Party, and has too often been dismissed as simply a matter of a few bad apples.”

This week the chair of the Israeli Labor party Avi Gabbay said he would cut all ties with Jeremy Corbyn over allegations of anti-Semitism in the UK Labour party.

In a letter to Corbyn, the Israeli leader said: “While there are many areas where our respective parties can and will cooperate, we cannot retain relations with you, leader of Labour party UK, while you fail to adequately address the antisemitism within Labour party UK.”

Gabbay claimed the “temporary suspension” of relations with the Labour leader would not affect the official link between the parties.

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