General election: Labour crisis as candidate withdraws after ‘Shylock’ comments

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A LABOUR candidate for the General Election has pulled out of the race following an accusation of anti-Semitism.

Gideon Bull quit as the party’s candidate for Clacton after being accused of making an anti-Semitic comment during a private meeting at Haringey Council. It is the latest in a series of blows for Jeremy Corbyn, who has been criticised for his handling of anti-Semitism in Labour, as he gears up for the General Election on December 12.

Mr Bull admitted using the term Shylock but denied he was speaking in reference to Jewish councillor Zena Brabazon.

The Haringey councillor said: “The allegation that I called a Jewish Cabinet member Shylock is entirely false.

“I used an analogy when referring to a housing decision being called in by backbenchers.

“I was not referring to the councillor, who was not part of the call in.

“When she politely informed me that this saying was offensive, I immediately apologised and explained that I did not know that Shylock was Jewish and I would never have mentioned Shylock if I had known this.

“I grew up in a working class area in Ilford where this was a common saying, but I didn’t know it was offensive.

“This was a genuine accident and I reiterate my sincere apology for this mistake.

“I’ve decided that right now is not the best time for me to stand as a candidate.

“The most important thing is that we get a Labour MP elected in Clacton.

“My parents live in Clacton, which includes the most deprived area in the whole country, and I’ve seen first-hand how this community has been devastated by the Conservatives’ cuts.”

Shylock is a Jewish moneylender in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

A complaint about Mr Bull’s comment was made to Labour in July.

It comes after ex-Labour MPs Ian Austin and John Woodcock yesterday called for voters to back Boris Johnson over Mr Corbyn in the General Election.

Meanwhile, the Jewish Chronicle newspaper published a front page urging voters not to support Labour because of anti-Semitism.

The paper said the “near total inaction of Mr Corbyn and the rest of the Labour leadership in dealing with anti-Semites in the party has both emboldened them and encouraged others”.

It also accused the Labour leader and his allies of having “actively impeded action against the racists”.

The newspaper added: “If this man is chosen as our next prime minister, the message will be stark: that our dismay that he could ever be elevated to a prominent role in British politics, and our fears of where that will lead, are irrelevant.”

Asked about the front page, Mr Corbyn said: “Anti-Semitism is a poison and an evil in our society. Any form of racism is a poison and evil in society.

“I have spent my whole life fighting against racism. I will die an anti-racist. I want every community to feel safe and supported in this country – the Jewish community, Muslim community, Hindu community, any other community from any faith or any other part of the world.

“Our party has confronted the issue, we have suspended or expelled members, we have an education programme and all of that has been set up since I became the leader of this party, and we’ll carry on doing exactly that.

“There are many Jewish people in this country who are members of Labour Party, supporters of the Labour Party, work with the Labour Party and they do not share the views that have been put forward on the front page of the Jewish Chronicle.

“I regret the Jewish Chronicle has chosen to print that. I simply say to everyone: our community is stronger when people work together, when we recognise the danger and the poison that anti-Semitism is.

“We’ll be a stronger community when we defeat all forms of racism and I will politically campaign to eradicate racism in any form.”

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