Shortlisted Labour Wakefield by-election candidate is target of ‘Zionist’ taunts

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Shortlisted Labour Wakefield by-election candidate is target of ‘Zionist’ taunts

Kate Dearden, who previously worked with UJS and JLM on projects, is targeted with 'Zionist' slurs ahead of a meeting to pick Labour's candidate to fight the Wakefield by-election

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

A shortlisted Labour Party candidate for the by-election in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, has been subjected to “Zionist” taunts from far-left activists.

Community Union official Kate Dearden was one of two names to make the final shortlist at a candidate selection meeting held in the constituency on Sunday.

Dearden, who grew up in nearby Bradford, had previously been an outspoken campaigner against antisemitism, working with the Union of Jewish Students and the Jewish Labour Movement in the past on projects with the community.

Outlining her manifesto, Dearden, who is not Jewish herself, wrote that if selected as the Labour candidate she would “fight for our shared Labour values and work to change people’s lives for the better.”

But in a series of online attacks from activists hailing themselves as “lefty” Dearden was taunted with attacks such as “Kate seems to have supported Zionists (UJS/JLM)”.

Another post by a Twitter user named Broadslide read:”Dinner with the Zionists is it? How can you be a socialist party when you have kicked out the Socialists. In fact this little vote has collapsed because you are all a farce.”

While another post stated:”Soo surprised to see Starmer’s choice is a Zionist supporter…”

At Sunday’s selection meeting Dearden was beaten to the candidate slot by NHS worker Simon Lightwood.

Another online post, responding to Dearden not being selected, stated:”Good. Go back to obscurity where you belong Zionist.”

The Wakefield constituency Labour Party executive, which is dominated by supporters of previous leader Jeremy Corbyn, staged a publicity seeking walk-out of the final selection meeting.

They offered no support for either of the two shortlisted candidates.

But the walk-out failed to stop the hustings and members vote from taking place to choose their favoured candidate.

One member, who voted in the hustings, told Jewish News they believed the walk-out was “just a pathetic stunt” .

The Wakefield by-election, for which a date has not yet been set, was prompted by Tory MP Imran Ahmad Khan’s resignation after his sexual assault conviction.

Selected candidate Lightwood later said:”Wakefield has been without an MP and a voice at Westminster for over a year. The Conservatives now need to call this by-election so local people can finally get the representation they deserve.”

Dearden added:”I’m sad to say I wasn’t selected as Labour’s candidate for the Wakefield by-election.

“I wish the best to Simon Lightwood who I know will work hard to turn this seat red again.

“I look forwards to seeing everyone on the doors as we fight to win back Wakefield!”

Jewish News has also contacted JLM for comment.

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