MP criticises Labour rival’s claim ‘weaponising’ antisemitism row hinders fight

MP criticises Labour rival’s claim ‘weaponising’ antisemitism row hinders fight

Mike Freer hits back at Labour's candidate for Golders Green and Finchley for claiming hyperbole undermines fight against antisemitism.

Mike Freer
Mike Freer

The MP for Finchley and Golders Green has criticised a Labour candidate for saying “weaponising” the antisemitism row had made it harder to combat genuine Jew-hate.

Barnet councillor Sara Conway, selected by Labour to run against Mike Freer, spoke to Jewish News yesterday amid growing speculation a general election was imminent.

Conway stressed that she was not seeking to “dismiss or push back” on claims, but added: “You can’t weaponise without there being a problem but this issue has been weaponised by certain media commentators. I don’t mean necessarily in the community.”

She added that the row had been “drummed up to such a level”, it had become “an endless back and forth that doesn’t work.”

In a statement, Freer said: “I condemn the idea that antisemitism has been ‘weaponised’ or ‘drummed up.’ Tell that to the number of Labour activists and MPs like Dame Margaret Hodge.

“To suggest that the Commission for Racial Equality have launched an investigation into Labour as being complicit in weaponising the issue is laughable.

“The Labour candidate shows how out of touch and complacent the Labour Party have become.”

Conway responded to the criticism, saying:”I have been vocal about antisemitism within the party and protested against it. Progress has been made but, as I’ve called for, further action is needed to root this out.

“In my earlier comments I was referring specifically to the right-wing press and far-right commentators on social media, including those who have themselves promoted racist rhetoric, who use this issue as a political football to create polarisation and division, which can undermine our fight against antisemitism.

“I have always challenged those who dismiss our concerns about antisemitism as ‘smears’ and deny that there is a real problem, which contributes to the problem and makes it harder for us to fight it.”

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