Peterborough MP calls for ‘shadow’ of antisemitism to be urgently tackled

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Peterborough MP calls for ‘shadow’ of antisemitism to be urgently tackled

Paul Bristow invites the JLC to help address the problem directly after the city's Labour and Tory parties were engulfed by Jew-hate this week with numerous councillors suspended

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

MP Paul Paul Bristow alongside a front page of the Peterborough Telegraph, branding the scandal of antisemitism a 'stain' on the city.
MP Paul Paul Bristow alongside a front page of the Peterborough Telegraph, branding the scandal of antisemitism a 'stain' on the city.

Peterborough’s Conservative MP Paul Bristow has called for “the shadow” of antisemitism that has engulfed the city’s political scene to tackled.

The parliamentarian spoke out after Jewish News revealed shocking allegations of anti-Jewish racism from members of both Labour and Conservatives in the region.

Bristow spoke out after Labour suspended 14 individuals for alleged antisemitism, including seven councillors.

Meanwhile Peterborough Tories took action on Wednesday after similar claims emerged amongst at least four local activists, including sitting councillors.

The local Peterborough Telegraph newspaper put the story across its front page on Thursday, with the headline A Stain On Our City.

Bristow said:“As Peterborough’s MP, I take the suspensions of councillors and candidates very seriously.

“The Jewish Leadership Council is right to say that ‘there is a specific and identifiable problem’ of antisemitism in our city’s politics.

“I have invited JLC representatives to come to Peterborough to meet me and address this problem directly.

“I hope that faith groups (including representatives from the Peterborough Liberal Jewish Community), councillors and the local political parties will participate in the meeting.

“We must lift this shadow over politics in our city.

“It is incumbent on all parties to improve understanding and tackle unacceptable actions, comments and behaviour.”

On Wednesday, Peterborough Conservatives suspended Ishfaq Hussain, the party’s candidate for the local Dogsthorpe ward on May 6.

His Facebook posts included claims Jewish people living in Israel are not “true Jews” and that Israel is part of a “Zionist trilogy” alongside America and Saudi Arabia which “breed terrorists”.

Paul Bristow won the Peterborough seat from Labour’s Lisa Forbes in 2019

He has also previously turned his profile picture into an image with the caption: “This person does not recognise the State of Israel,” while claiming that “Zionism is one of the worst afflictions on the world” and that “the Zionists with the help of the UK and America have already occupied 85 per cent of Palestine”.

READ MORE: Labour suspends 14 over antisemitism, Tories urged to expel councillors  

Approached by the Peterborough Telegraph over these comments, and other inflammatory posts, he said:”

He told the PT when approached for comment: “I recognise Israel’s right to exist and wholeheartedly support a two-state solution. I deeply regret that my frustration at events in Israel and Palestine led me to suggest otherwise.

“At times in the past I reacted irresponsibly on social media. My comments at those moments do not reflect my settled view.”

The Labour Party is understood to have taken “proactive action” after discovering alleged antisemitic social media posts from 14 members of the Peterborough and the North Cambridgeshire CLPs.

Party sources said the decision to proceed with suspensions only one week before a local election showed they were prioritising the fight against antisemitism in the party.

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