Tory hopeful condemned for branding MP’s conversion to Judaism ‘a con’

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Tory hopeful condemned for branding MP’s conversion to Judaism ‘a con’

JLC says it raised Warrington Conservative chair Wendy Maisey's remarks about Labour MP Charlotte Nichols at the 'highest level' of the Tory party

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Charlotte Nichols
Charlotte Nichols

The Jewish Leadership Council have confirmed they have raised concerns at the “highest levels” of the Conservative Party after a former parliamentary candidate who had described an MP’s conversion to Judaism as “a con” has been picked to stand for election as a councillor next month.

Wendy Maisey, the chair of the Warrington Conservatives, claimed Labour MP Charlotte Nichols was faking her religion and that she would pretend to have a disability in order to win votes.

Ms Maisey – who later apologised “if I have caused any offence with my comments” – has been selected as the Conservative party candidate for a seat on Warrington borough council in the 6 May elections.

On Wednesday a spokesperson for the JLC confirmed to Jewish News that they had met with Ms Nicols and “absolutely condemn the discrimination she has faced.”

In social media messages that emerged in February, Ms Maisey had written that Warrington North MP Ms Nichols had “turned her back on Catholicism but will jump on anything for a vote”.

Writing on the Conservatives’ Warrington North campaign group on WhatsApp she added: “Next thing will be she’s in the vulnerable category. We always said she’ll pull out a disability at an appropriate time to go with Jewish ginger LGBT.”

The JLC spokesperson confirmed the communal group have now “raised this issue at the highest levels of the Conservative Party.”

Ms Nichols, who has previously revealed she converted to Reform Judaism in 2014 and who identifies as LGBT, said it is “deeply disappointing” that Ms Maisey has been allowed to stand as a Tory council candidate.

Having previously stood unsuccessfully as the Conservative parliamentary candidate in 2019, Ms Maisey has confirmed she would be standing in the Culcheth, Glazebury and Croft ward on May 6 where she will be “campaigning against the building on green belt.”

In February the Conservative party co-chair Amanda Milling announced an investigation into the Warrington Conservative branch, which is chaired by Ms Maisey.

The probe followed alleged antisemitic comments by another member of the group, who tweeted Ms Nichols saying: “Keep the Aryan race going.”

The Conservative party declined to say whether its investigation into Warrington Conservatives had concluded or resulted in any disciplinary action.

A spokesperson said: “Wendy Maisey has apologised for any offence caused and has undertaken thorough diversity training.”

Ms Nichols added it was “highly inappropriate” that Ms Maisey was standing as a candidate when she held such “hateful views.”

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, said: “We all have a responsibility to call out antisemitism when we see it. But even after investigating, the Conservatives appear to be happy to endorse a candidate who accused a Jewish MP of lying about her religion and using her sexual orientation to win votes.”

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