Labour’s candidate for the Conservative-held marginal seat of St Ives has defended her band’s song accused of calling for Israel’s destruction from charges of antisemitism.
Alana Bates, who is standing in next month’s general election, is a bassist in The Tribunes, a self-described “radical-political alternative rock four-piece band” formed in 2015.
The song, uploaded to Spotify in 2018, is entitled From the River to the Sea, a controversial phrase often used at anti-Israel demonstrations to call for the country’s destruction.
“With no justice, there’s no peace / troops out of the middle east / with no justice, there’s no peace / get out of the middle east,” the song states.
“Justice should not have to wait / Israel’s an apartheid state / Justice should not have to wait / Israel is a racist state,” it continues.
Later, the song calls on listeners to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, saying “ethnic cleaning and the rest, support BDS.”
Independent Cornwall councillor Tim Dwelly said the song was “repulsive racism” and called for Bates’ immediate expulsion from Labour.
Dwelly, a former member of Labour, tweeted: “Her band sings that Palestine should be ‘one state’. Israel should be ‘out of the Middle East’, is a ‘racist state’. Repulsive racism. She should be expelled by Labour immediately.”
Bates told Jewish News the song had been removed from online platforms on the advice of the Labour Party.
The candidate denied allegations of antisemitism, insisting the song written by the band’s lead singer and guitarist Kate Shilson does not call for Israel’s destruction.
“The accusations are that it says that we want Israel out of the Middle East but it actually says ‘troops out of the Middle East’,” she said. “That is an anti-war slogan, which is referring to British and American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the Middle East generally.”
She added: “I didn’t actually write the song and it was written quite a few years ago and it’s not Labour policy and I’m in the Labour Party now and I support Labour’s policy for a two-state solution to the conflict to ensure that both Israelis and Palestinians can live peacefully together.”
She also claimed the song had not performed in four years. “We used to do it with a guy called Richard but he’s not in our band anymore and he’s really good at playing the guitar,” she added.