Labour candidate stands down after being accused of using anti-semitic term in front of Jewish councillor

Posted On: 
8th November 2019

A Labour election candidate has quit over accusations he used an anti-semitic term in front of a Jewish councillor.

Gideon Bull is the second Labour candidate to step down in 24 hours
Credit: 
PA

Gideon Bull quit as the party’s candidate for Clacton-on-Sea after admitting he used the term “Shylock” during a council meeting.

Speaking to BBC Essex, the Haringey Councillor said he had used the term - which is a reference to the villanous Jewish moneylender in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice  - but denied he had aimed the comments directly at Jewish Councillor Zena Brabazon.

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“The allegation that I called a Jewish Cabinet Member ‘Shylock’ is entirely false,” he told the BBC.

Instead, Mr Bull said he was not aware the term was offensive and claimed it was a “common saying" where he grew up. 

“I used an analogy when referring to a housing decision being called in by backbenchers,” he said in a statement.

“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."

He added: “I grew up in a working class area in Illford 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.”

His resignation came just hours after Kate Ramsden, Labour's candidate in Gordon, Aberdeenshire, also quit over allegations of anti-semitism.

In a blog post, she appeared to compare Israel to an abused child who turns into an abuser, and separately claimed that claims of Labour anti-semitism were “orchestrated by the wealthy establishment”.

The resignations come after Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell faced criticism after he insistedLabour had done “everything that has been asked of us by the Jewish community" to deal with the issue.

SEXIST

Meanwhile, another Labour candidate is under pressure to quit over controversial social media posts.

Ian Byrne, who was selected to stand in Liverpool West Derby, shared a message about Tory peer Michelle Mone which called to "hit the c*** where it hurts".

He also commented on a post about Esther McVey describing her as a “b*****d… and soon to be gone".

Mr Byrne has apologised, saying he was "working in a printing shop and at the start of my political journey".

But International Trade Secretary Liz Truss said: "These comments from a man who is set to become a Labour MP are disgusting and sexist. The use of such malicious language has no place in our public discourse.

"Female MPs face daily threats of violence on social media and we should be doing everything we can to stamp it out.

"Mr Byrne should step down immediately."