Labour’s newest MP Lisa Forbes was “careless” for liking a tweet accusing Theresa May of “having a Zionist slave masters agenda” but is not antisemitic, according to a senior party frontbencher.
Barry Gardiner, the shadow international trade secretary, compared the situation to Michael Gove’s drug use, saying if the Cabinet minister is to be forgiven after revealing he took cocaine in the past, then she should be as well.
It comes after calls for Ms Forbes to be suspended by Labour over the tweet, just days after winning the Peterborough by-election for the party.
But speaking to BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Gardiner said: “I found myself scrolling through tweets yesterday and by mistake I liked a tweet of one of my colleagues, which I immediately unliked actually.
“But look, the point that you’re making I take it on board. She had apologised. She said that this was a careless error.
“She looked at the video of the children supporting people who’d suffered in New Zealand and she didn’t bother to read that what went with it.”
The presenter said most people who use social media “don’t find themselves liking antisemitic tweets, and yet the Labour Party doesn’t seem to be able to get those people into candidacies”.
Pressed on whether the party has a problem, Mr Gardiner said: “She has apologised. I think that she has said that she’s committed to fighting against antisemitism, to working with the Jewish community to ensure that they are confident that she is not antisemitic.
“And that is something that she must now deliver on. But on a day when, you know you are, you’re going to be interviewing Michael Gove who’s asking to be forgiven for class A drugs use, I think if he can be forgiven for that, then Lisa Forbes can be forgiven for liking a tweet that she didn’t bother to read.
“So in that perspective let’s move on.”
WATCH: Barry Gardiner says that if Michael Gove can be forgiven for using Class A drugs, new Labour MP Lisa Forbes can be forgiven for liking antisemitic Facebook posts. #Marr pic.twitter.com/h50DuVZXn6
— The Red Roar (@TheRedRoar) June 9, 2019
Another Labour frontbencher, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth said Ms Forbes had made “some pretty terrible mistakes” but he also did not believe she was antisemitic.
Appearing on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday, he said: “Well Jeremy Corbyn has supported Lisa Forbes. I’ve known Lisa for a few years, I don’t know her very well but I’ve known her for a few years, I don’t believe she’s antisemitic.
“I think she’s made some pretty terrible mistakes, terrible mistakes that she’s apologised for. I think Lisa now has to show and understand the upsets that she’s causing the Jewish community and she has to work with the Jewish communities to demonstrate to them that she’s not antisemitic and liking those Facebook posts was a genuine mistake.
“She said she hadn’t read the text properly, I believe her, but I do believe now she’s got to work hard to show people, to show the Jewish community and colleagues in Parliament that she’s not antisemitic and she’s prepared to engage with the communities to demonstrate that.”