Jewish former Labour candidate for Sheffield Hallam ‘deeply saddened’ by anti-Semitism row

A Jewish former candidate for Sheffield Hallam has condemned the constituency members for supporting a suspended Labour MP after they made anti-Semitism remarks at a meeting.

By Molly Williams
Friday, 1st March 2019, 2:44 pm
Updated Friday, 1st March 2019, 2:47 pm
Prospective Labour candidate Oliver Coppard
Prospective Labour candidate Oliver Coppard

Oliver Coppard said he was ‘deeply saddened’ after Sheffield Hallam Constituency Party voted 40-1 in support of reinstating Chris Williamson, MP for Derby North and key ally of Jeremy Corbyn.

It comes after Mr Williamson said Labour was ‘too apologetic’ in its response to complaints of anti-Semitism and was being ‘demonised as a racist party’.

Labour MP Chris Williamson, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn, who has been criticised by several Labour MPs for saying the party has been "too apologetic" over anti-Semitism

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Mr Coppard, who refused to stand for election last year after the anti-Semitism row, tweeted: “I know that the 40 members who voted to ignore the genuine concerns of the Jewish community and good people from across our movement do not speak for the majority of the members of our party in Sheffield Hallam or the community itself.

“For members to say ‘The allegation that Chris is downplaying antisemitism is totally unfounded’ is flatly and demonstrably false.

“Support for this motion does not represent the best of our community or our party, ignores the overwhelming concerns or the Jewish community, and will do untold damage to the prospects of electing Olivia Blake and a Labour government. Please reconsider.”

In the motion, the group said: “The allegation that Chris is downplaying anti-Semitism is totally unfounded. His comments, made at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield, were taken out of context in a deliberate attempt to ruin both the reputation of Chris Williamson MP and Jeremy Corbyn.”

Liberal Democrat candidate for Sheffield Hallam Laura Gordan said: “In 2015 Hallam selected Oliver Coppard – a Jewish resident of our city – to be their candidate. Now, while leading Jewish campaigners such as Luciana Berger and Oliver Coppard have been hounded out of Labour or forced to take a back seat due to vile anti-Semitic comments, Hallam Labour are facilitating Chris Williamson’s racist comments and denying there is a problem.

“As the Labour candidate for Sheffield Hallam, Olivia Blake needs to come out and say whether the wishes of her local Labour Party are the same as hers. She needs to condemn these words to start to regain the trust of the people of Sheffield Hallam.”

Mr Williamson was given a ‘notice of investigation for a pattern of behaviour’ but a decision was later taken by Ms Formby to suspend him. He said at the time he would be working to clear his name.

He was filmed saying the comments at a Momentum meeting in Sheffield where local councillors were seen clapping and cheering his remark.

Councillor Olivia Blake, Labour candidate for Sheffield Hallam, has been contacted for a comment.