A member of Ed Miliband’s shadow cabinet has backtracked after appearing to endorse Israel boycotts against her party’s policy.
Filmed during a rally in Hyde Park on 9 August, Shabana Mahmood, the shadow exchequer secretary, urged the crowds to “educate yourselves about the different boycott campaigns and get involved in them”.
To great applause, she reflected on direct action taken against Sainsbury’s in Birmingham the previous week: “I was with 200 activists outside Sainsbury’s in the centre of Birmingham,” she said. “We laid down in the street and we laid down inside Sainsbury’s to say we object to Sainsbury’s stocking goods from illegal settlements – and that they must stop. We managed to closed down that store at peak time on a Saturday. This is how we can make a difference.
She has also retweeted a message from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign which said: “Make a difference – lobby your MP & join the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement!”.
A Labour Party spokesman told the Jewish News: “Ed Miliband has been clear that labour does not support boycotts of Israel and we resolutely oppose the isolation of Israel. Labour remains committed to a comprehensive peace based on a two-state solution , international law and secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.
“Having spoken to her, Shabana has made clear that she does not support calls for a boycott of Israel but supports the proper labelling of goods from the region as per the DEFRA guidelines.”
Mike Freer, the Tory MP for Finchley and Golders Green, condemned the actions of Mahmood. He said ahead of the Labour response: “Once again we see the ugly side of Labour and the weakness of Miliband. His unwillingness or inability to rein in a front bench spokesman who is encouraging these sort of targeted attacks speaks volumes. For any Parliamentarian to encourage mob rule as a way of protesting is shameful. Will synagogues and kosher shops be next on her list of targets?”