Labour candidate brands rival’s antisemitism criticism as ‘smear tactics’

Labour candidate brands rival’s antisemitism criticism as ‘smear tactics’

'I am proud that we have so many Jewish members of High Peak Labour Party,' Ruth George claimed

Ruth George
Ruth George

A Labour candidate has dismissed her rival’s criticism over her handling of antisemitism allegations as “smear tactics.”

The Conservative candidate for High Peak, Robert Largan, has repeatedly challenged George on the issue.

Last month, he accused her of recruiting as her campaign coordinator a Labour activist and former Alison Chabloz ally accused of sharing antisemitic conspiracy theories on social media – an allegation George categorically denies.

He tweeted earlier this year: “Something is rotten in High Peak Labour Party. The evidence mounts by the week that there is a very serious antisemitism problem with Ruth George MP at the centre of it.”

George, elected to represent the seat in 2017, alluded to Largan’s attacks in a Facebook comment on 16 November, posted in response to a message of support by an online user days earlier.

The online user’s post backed George, claiming she is “definitely not an antisemite – I say that as one of the few Jewish residents of the High Peak. She has my vote.”

“It is clear that Ruth *really* does care care about the people of High Peak and will continue to prioritise our much loved local education and health care services and a ton more [sic],” the user said.

George’s reply sent days later referenced an event hosted by New Mills and Hayfield Labour Party featuring a performance of Yiddish music, entitled “Yiddish Revolutionaries: A Musical History of the Jewish Left.”

The Facebook comment said: “Meeting you and seeing all the lovely local people who are Jewish and came along to New Mills Labour Party’s amazing social and fundraiser last night gives me hope that the people of High Peak can see through the smear tactics being used against me and others for attempted political gain.

“Last night’s music and recitals from the brilliant local group Yiddish Revolutionaries was a reminder of the strong Jewish socialist movement that helped form the Labour Party,” it said.

“I am proud that we have so many Jewish members of High Peak Labour Party and that we work together to tackle racism and discrimination both locally and nationally,” it continued.

In a statement to Jewish News on Monday evening, George said her post “was about a joyful celebration of Jewish culture.”

“I referred to ‘smears’ specifically in relation to false claims made about me by the local Conservative Party candidate.  I was not in any way referring to concerns raised about antisemitism in our party and society, which I am committed to tackling,” she added.

Earlier this year, George apologised “wholeheartedly and unreservedly” for suggesting in a Facebook comment that Change UK could be funded by the state of Israel.

The comment drew media coverage and criticism at the time, with the Board of Deputies joining a chorus of criticism. A Labour Party spokesperson condemned the “offensive remarks” and said the Whips Office had sent George a reminder of conduct.

“I had no intention of invoking a conspiracy theory and I am deeply sorry that my ill-thought out and poorly worded comment did this. I withdraw it completely,” George said at the time.

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