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Richard Short, a Conservative general election candidate, used a blatant anti-Semitic slur against prominent Jewish journalist Melanie Phillips, Scram News can reveal.
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”.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism includes as an example: “Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”
That evening, Phillips had appeared on BBC Question Time alongside Boris Johnson, Ed Davey, Tessa Jowell, and Russell Brand. Phillips is a British journalist, broadcaster, and author. She has described her family as British Jewish.
Not long before Short tweeted his anti-Semitic trope, Phillips had provided a long response to a question about arming Syrian rebels against President Assad, outlining her analysis of the situation. She said that Syria was a pawn of Iran, which was working to develop a nuclear bomb to attack Israel.
Short told Scram News: “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.”
The Conservative Party has not suggested if Short will be suspended over his remarks or commented on any disciplinary action they intend to take.
Scram News can also reveal comments made by Short from 2011-2013 on “chavs” and “benefit scroungers”.
In 2011, he suggested someone watch “‘Future State of Welfare with John Humphrys’”, saying that it “confirmed all I suspected about chav dole scroungers.”
In 2012, he said that “a Chav is a violent individual with no moral integrity”.
In 2013, he said: “When you work hard you deserve a day off, a principle lost on benefit scroungers!” He also said: “Benefits 1949 on Channel 4 will have benefit scroungers squirming on their over used leather couches while watching their 50″ wide screens.”
A spokesperson for CLASS, the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, said: “These stereotypes of ‘chavs’ are rooted in ideas about the ‘undeserving poor’ that saw many thousands more families plunged into poverty as a result of austerity cuts to benefits, half of whom are working households.
“The reality isn’t wide screen TVs but a choice between eating, heating or paying the rent.
“Low-paid and insecure work, combined with the rising cost of living, housing costs and a benefits freeze have boxed families in. Instead of demonising the working class, we need to be designing a system that helps people keep afloat when they’re struggling, often as a result of circumstances like losing a job, illness or a relationship breakup.
“I think voters will be alarmed that candidates in this election are talking about forced labour camps for the poor, as we saw in Ashfield, or Richard Short’s comments. When it comes to ‘moral integrity’ the question is do we want to stop children going to school hungry?”
Short is the Conservative candidate for St Helens South and Whiston, Merseyside. In 2015, he unsuccessfully stood to be an MP for the Tories in Warrington North.
Ironically, Short is also the chair of the Homeless Support Project in Wigan and Leigh, as well the deputy director of UnionBlue, known as Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists, a group officially affiliated to the Conservative Party. He is also a columnist for ConservativeHome.
It’s unclear how Short’s commitment to the plight of homeless people corresponds with his foul-mouthed abuse of “chavs” and “dole scroungers”.
Neither Short nor the Conservative Party had anything to say regarding these comments on “chavs” and “scroungers”.