Lib Dems suspend candidate after footage emerges of antisemitic campaign

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Lib Dems suspend candidate after footage emerges of antisemitic campaign

Geeta Sidhu-Robb dropped over clip from 1997 urging Muslims: “Don’t vote for a Jew, Jack Straw is a Jew. If you vote for him you're voting for a Jew. Jews are the enemy of Muslims”

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Geeta Sidhu-Robb
Geeta Sidhu-Robb

The Liberal Democrats have suspended a candidate hoping to run for mayor of London, after footage emerged of her running an antisemitic campaign against former Labour MP Jack Straw.

Geeta Sidhu-Robb was shown in a clip, posted on Twitter by GnasherJew, telling Muslim voters during the 1997 election campaign in Blackburn: “Don’t vote for a Jew, Jack Straw is a Jew. If you vote for him you’re voting for a Jew. Jews are the enemy of Muslims”  .

Standing as a Conservative at the time, according to PoliticsHome, she claims Labour was telling voters she is “against Islam, she is not Muslim.. So, we are just going to pull the gloves off. I am going to get a car and walk around, and drive through town telling everyone Jack Straw is a Jew. How is a Muslim going to vote for someone who is Jewish?”

Straw, who is Christian, told Jewish News: “My family’s antecedents are rather obscure but the family story was that we were Jewish through my maternal grandmother.” He said, in 2012, “someone wrote to me out of the blue to say that they had produced a family tree for me, and in fact my Nanna came from Notts!”, so he is “not sure” about the Jewish link.

He added, “Geeta Sidhu, as she then was, was pretty desperate, so I guess this was why she made this charge. It didn’t work – my majority in 1997 was the highest I achieved in eight elections.  The vast majority of the Asian heritage community ignored Ms Sidhu and voted for me.”

Following the emergence of the clip, a London Liberal Democrat spokesperson said:  “Geeta Sidhu-Robb has been suspended from the Liberal Democrats and will not be on the ballot paper to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London. There is an investigation underway in accordance with due process.”

Sidhu-Robb took to social media, saying: “I am deeply ashamed of the ignorant and abusive language”, saying it was “entirely inconsistent with my views and values, and though there are no excuses for my actions, there is some context; that is, that I was under a great deal of strain and retaliated to the racial abuse I was receiving in Blackburn ‘like for like’.”

Saying she takes “responsibility for my abhorrent actions twenty three years ago” she called on people to “judge me on who I am today”, adding she is “actively reaching out to the Jewish community” acknowledging the “hurt that these comments and actions would have inflicted”.

Lord Palmer of Childs Hill, Deputy Speaker House of Lords, said: “She has rightly been suspended and removed as a candidate for London Mayor. She has no place in my Party. Clearly the vetting procedure at London Liberal Democrats was very faulty for her to be shortlisted, despite her comments in 1997 when she was a Conservative candidate However, the test of a political Party is how they act when antisemitism is discovered. I have every confidence that the Leadership of the Liberal democrats will deal with this.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “The antisemitic comments discovered to have been made by Ms Sidhu-Robb, one of the Liberal Democrats’ proposed candidates for the Mayor of London, were despicable. We were heartened, however, to see that within hours of the story breaking, the Party suspended her and made it clear she would not be on the ballot paper.”

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