By Patrick Maguire
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was accused of using a “classic anti-Semitic trope” after he claimed Ed Miliband was planning to “stab the United Kingdom in the back” over Trident.
Writing on the UK’s nuclear deterrent in The Times, Fallon said that “Ed Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back in order to become Prime Minister”.
His comments were labelled “absolute garbage” by Shadow Business Secretary Chuka Umunna.
Left-wing activist and author Owen Jones tweeted that Fallon’s comments were “deeply sinister” and that his use of the phrase “stab in the back” amounted to a “classic anti-Semitic trope”.
An ensuing comment on social media linked the comment by Fallon to the “Stab-in-the-back myth” – a conspiracy theory in right-wing circles in interwar Germany, which blamed German Jews for the loss of the First World War.
Responding to Jones’ comments, Jewish Times columnist Hugo Rifkind said: “I’m not sure there are so many obvious parallels between Weimar Germany and the 2010 Labour leadership election”.
Jones went on to expand on his earlier remarks with a series of tweets four hours later, accusing the media of “demeaning and poisoning” attacks on Miliband – the Labour Party’s first Jewish leader – over his appearance, public persona and heritage.
The tweets link Fallon’s allegedly anti-Semitic comments with the Daily Mail’s 2013 attack on Miliband’s father, the late academic and Holocaust refugee Ralph Miliband, which described him as ‘The man who hated Britain”.
Jeremy Paxman’s criticism of the Labour leader as a “North London geek” in a televised interview last month was also cited by Jones as sharing the same “sinister” tone.