Blogger suspended by SNP over ‘vile antisemitic’ post about Jewish official

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Blogger suspended by SNP over ‘vile antisemitic’ post about Jewish official

Article aimed towards Jewish GMB Union activist Rhea Wolfson included references to Hitler, and accused 'the Jew' of trying to take over the movement

GMB Scotland branch secretary Rhea Wolfson was subject of the antisemitic article. Photo credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
GMB Scotland branch secretary Rhea Wolfson was subject of the antisemitic article. Photo credit: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

A blogger has had his SNP membership suspended following the publication of a post described as “vile” and “antisemitic”.

The blog was aimed towards GMB organiser Rhea Wolfson and included references to Hitler “accusing ‘the Jew’ of gradually assuming leadership of the trade union movement”.

It was shared across social media platforms, including on the SNP Edinburgh East Twitter page, Livingston East Facebook page and the campaign page of two West Lothian councillors.

The author of the Grouse Beater blog, Gareth Wardell, said the essay was an attack on fascism and that political opponents had “tried to make it sound sinister”.

The Scottish Labour Party and the GMB wrote letters to the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon calling for an investigation into the post.

An SNP spokesman said: “A complaint has been passed to the disciplinary committee and the individual has been suspended.”

There are also calls for the suspension of SNP Councillor Frank Anderson, a representative of East Livingston and East Calder, after he initially defended the post.

GMB Scotland Secretary Gary Smith said: “The SNP’s suspension of Mr Wardell was the only logical course of action to take. GMB will also be contacting Police Scotland to establish what further action can be taken.

“However, the apology from Councillor Anderson is insufficient in light of the earlier defence of his comments. We believe this is contrived and insincere. He should be sacked from his elected position and his political membership should be suspended.

“As we said earlier, no political party has clean hands on the issue of antisemitism but nobody should need any reminders that antisemitism is on the rise and we in GMB are clear that it is absolutely intolerable.

“The Councillor’s position is untenable and if he cannot do the right thing himself then the SNP must take that decision for him.”

Councillor Anderson said: “I’ve now had the opportunity to properly understand the offence caused to Rhea Wolfson by this blog.

“I was unaware of her Jewish heritage and therefore did not appreciate how hurtful the words would be.

“I unreservedly apologise to her for my embarrassing lack of understanding of these issues and my part in the offence that she has suffered.”

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