Labour says it doesn't support their campaigns and they'll sit as independents if elected
One of three Labour election candidates suspended in Torbay says he is a victim of the party’s “over-sensitive reaction” to anti-Semitism claims.
Jack Critchlow issued a statement after it emerged he had been suspended by Labour pending an investigation.
He said the subject of anti-Semitism had never come up on the doorstep during canvassing and the issue in the party had “needlessly got out of hand”.
Mr Critchlow is chair of the Torquay branch and a candidate in the Cockington with Chelston ward for the Torbay Council elections on Thursday, May 2.
Also suspended pending investigation are candidates Virgina Keyes at Tormohun and Dani Passmore at Barton with Watcombe.
The reasons for the suspensions have not been confirmed by Labour, but the action follows reports of social media posts alleged to contain anti-Semitic material.
Mr Critchlow said: “I am the victim of Labour’s over-sensitive reaction to a situation that has needlessly got out of hand and of no relevance to the council election campaign.
“I am still on the ballot paper for 2nd May and should I be elected will become, overnight, an Independent councillor, which is ironic as many residents of Cockington-with-Chelston would prefer me to be one anyway.
“I will then be answerable to them and them only.
“The subject has never come up on the doorstep and people are, quite rightly, talking about potholed roads, bin collection, the lack of policing on our streets and other such local issues.”
It is understood the three were suspended by Labour after the deadline for nominations to stand in the elections on Thursday, May 2.
A Labour Party source said: “The Party does not support their campaigns and they will sit as independents if elected.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.
“All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.
“We can’t comment on individual cases.
“Individuals who are suspended from the Party can’t stand as Party candidates.
“Due to electoral laws, those who are suspended after the deadline can’t be removed from the register, but they are not Party candidates.”
Some on the left of Labour say the issue of anti-Semitism in the party under Jeremy Corbyn has been exaggerated by those on the right to undermine the leader and his supporters.
They say critics confuse legitimate political opposition to the Israeli state with anti-Semitism – defined as hostility or prejudice against Jewish people.
The party has been accused of being slow to act on allegations.