The Conservative Party has launched an investigation into one of its MP candidates for alleged anti-Semitism, after social media posts were exposed by Scram News.
The Tories have today announced that Richard Short, the party’s candidate for St Helens South and Whiston, is one of three prospective MPs who are being investigated by the party for anti-Semitism.
On 28th November, Scram News revealed that Short had used an anti-Semitic slur against journalist Melanie Phillips, who comes from a British Jewish family.
Posting on Twitter on 20th June 2013, Short questioned Phillips’s “allegiance” to the UK, agreeing with another Twitter user that “her allegiance is greater to Israel”. He added: “She almost has to declare an interest”.
Short was responding to comments that Phillips had made on BBC Question Time about the nuclear ambitions of Iran.
On 30th November, we reported that the Campaign Against Antisemitism had called on the Tories to take “immediate action” against Short. A spokesperson from the group said: “The charge of dual loyalty and disloyalty is among the most widely held anti-Semitic slurs and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.”
Now, finally, the Tories have decided to initiate action against the candidate.
And Short is not the only Tory PPC facing an investigation. Sally-Ann Hart, standing in the Tory marginal seat of Hastings, is also under investigation after it was revealed she had shared a video with an image implying that billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish, controls the EU.
She then liked a comment left underneath the video that said “Ein Reich”, a Nazi slogan.
Hart also provoked outrage earlier this week when she said at a hustings that some people with learning disabilities should be paid less than the minimum wage because they “don’t understand money”.
A third candidate, Lee Anderson (PPC for Ashfield), is similarly being investigated by the party. Anderson is a member of a pro-Boris Facebook group that features anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about George Soros, and support for far-right hate figure Tommy Robinson.
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong, and the Conservative Party takes decisive action to deal with any incidents of hatred, abuse or intimidation. We are committed to stamping out the scourge of anti-Semitism in our society and supporting our Jewish community.”
We had contacted the Conservative Party on numerous occasions before and after publishing our investigation into Short’s comments. We did not receive an official statement from party HQ.
Short, however, responded to our claims by saying: “I apologise unreservedly for this Tweet of 6 years ago. I admit I was ignorant of the offence that could be caused by what I said regarding Melanie Phillips, but I realise how inappropriate it was, it was wrong and I fully apologise.”
Meanwhile, Labour has called for all three candidates to be suspended.