SNP candidate dropped over ‘antisemitic’ comments wins seat

SNP candidate dropped over ‘antisemitic’ comments wins seat

Neale Hanvey takes Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency despite suspension from the party, defeating Labour's shadow Scottish secretary

Credit: Neale Hanvey YouTube
Credit: Neale Hanvey YouTube

An SNP candidate dropped over alleged antisemitic comments has won a Westminster seat despite the party’s withdrawal of support.

Neale Hanvey was the SNP candidate for the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath constituency but was dropped in the run-up to Thursday’s poll after social media posts he made two years ago came to light.

Despite his suspension, Mr Hanvey’s name remained on the ballot paper next to the SNP logo as the deadline for candidates to be nominated had passed.

He took the seat from shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird, winning 16,568 votes to his Labour opponent’s 15,325.

Mr Hanvey, who on apologising for the comments said he did not consider himself antisemitic but conceded the language he used was “unacceptable”, said he has written to Jewish groups in a bid to make amends.

Speaking to the BBC before the result was declared, Mr Hanvey said he had made contact “to try to offer some reassurance that my apology is very sincere and also to help myself and others ensure that the language they use when they are talking about some of the sensitive issues is more measured”.

On the SNP, he said: “I’ve got a lot of friends in the party, I feel at home in the party and I hope that this does not define me as an individual.”

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said before the election that party members should not support Mr Hanvey, who is the subject of a disciplinary process, and should instead be going to other neighbouring constituencies to campaign for candidates there.

Ms Laird claimed Mr Hanvey continued to use SNP branding in his campaign despite being dropped as a candidate.

In a statement on Twitter posted in late November, Hanvey said his suspension relates to social media posts made more than two years ago, for which he was “genuinely and deeply sorry”.

He said: “One message I posted was a news article from Sputnik news relating to George Soros which, I have since been advised, contained an image which is considered an antisemitic trope. On this occasion I did not give any thought to Soros’ faith and did not consider the connotations of the image in that context.

“I fully accept that this was wrong and I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused. Whilst that was not my intention, that was the effect and I accept full responsibility for this serious misjudgement.

“In another message I posted I drew parallels between the treatment of Palestinians and the unconscionable treatment of Jews in Europe during WW2. This was insensitive, upsetting and deeply offensive and is in direct contravention of the IHRA definition of antisemitism. For that I give an unequivocal apology.”

He added: “Although I do not in any way consider myself antisemitic, on reflection the language I used was and this is clearly unacceptable. I accept there may not be the words to express my regret for those I have offended, but I am genuinely and deeply sorry.”

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