Investigation into anti-Semitism as Tunbridge Wells Labour candidate steps down

Pam Mills

The Labour Party yesterday [Tuesday} launched an investigation into reports of anti-Semitism that have led to the suspension of a candidate due to contest May’s Tunbridge Wells Borough Council elections.

Roy Smart had been chosen to fight St James’ ward for Labour but has now been de-selected and will no longer take part.

Labour took the decision to suspend him on Monday. This was after his posts on social media, which encouraged followers to question if the Holocaust happened, were picked up by websites including Jewish News.

The move follows widespread reports of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism within the party, for which their leader Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for not eliminating.

Mr Smart is a frequent user of Facebook and shared an article with the headline: ‘Holocaust deprogramming course: Free yourself from a lifetime of Holo-brainwashing’.

In a post from last November, he wrote: “What moves me is the sheer audacity of Israel even existing.

“What a fantastical idea, that this bunch of rank outsiders from another continent could appropriate an existing, populated nation for themselves and convince the global community it was the moral thing to do.”
Some of the more extreme material has now been taken down.

But a glance at Mr Smart’s Facebook, even to someone who is not a ‘friend’, reveals a long list of articles he has posted on the themes of supporting Palestine and diminishing Israel.

Labour did not respond to the Times as to whether full background checks were made before his selection as a candidate.

Jewish News claimed Mr Smart shared an article stating that ‘Rothschild’s Jewish mafia agents’ were behind the 9/11 attacks. It states another image he shared shows Israeli Prime Minister holding President Donald Trump on a lead, surrounded by dead bodies in Gaza.

St James’ has not recently been a happy hunting ground for Labour and the news might have boosted the campaign of former Mayor David Neve, a Liberal Democrat, who is hoping to defend the seat.

Cllr Neve said: “He has made a big mistake in mixing religion and politics. The focus must be on the ward first and then on the full council.”

Cllr David Jukes, Leader of the Conservative-ruled authority, said: “He is not the sort of person I would like to see on the council.”

A Labour Party spokesman said: “Labour Head Office has suspended him from the party pending an official investigation.

Following his suspension, Roy Smart is no longer a council candidate.

“Anti-Semitism has absolutely no place in the party, and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it, in all its forms,” the spokesman continued.

“Complaints of anti-Semitism are taken very seriously. They are all fully investigated and, where necessary, appropriate disciplinary action is taken in line with our rules and procedures.

“Tunbridge Wells Labour will now be choosing a candidate to fill the vacancy,” said the spokesperson.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews told the Times that they felt it was right that Mr Smart had been suspended.
A representative said: “We would expect that he will be swiftly expelled.

“His posts are anti-Semitic and clearly have no place in the Labour Party.

“Unfortunately, this is representative of the anti-Semitism that we have sadly seen Labour continually fail to handle. To regain its credibility as an anti-racist party, Labour needs to deal with cases like these swiftly and firmly.”

The Times approached Mr Smart via Facebook for a response but no reply had been received at the time of going to press. A full list of council candidates will be announced on Monday [April 9].

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