Campaign Against anti-Semitism is calling for the Labour Party to expel MP Barry Sheerman over a tweet he posted Sunday morning, “Apparently there has been a bit of a run on silver shekels!” When Twitter users asked him to elaborate, Sheerman explained: “Apparently Richard Desmond & Philip Green were on the original list for seats in the House of Lords!”
— Campaign Against Antisemitism (@antisemitism) August 1, 2020
British publisher, businessman and former pornographer Richard Desmond is Jewish, as is billionaire businessman, and the chairman of Arcadia Group, Sir Philip Nigel Ross Green.
Hours later, after the denunciations started flying from all over, Sheerman deleted the offensive tweets (but we know you can’t delete anything once it’s online).
He then tweeted: “I apologize for my earlier tweet. I did not intend the meaning which has upset many, and I am very sorry for the upset and offense I have caused. I will think more carefully in future and will reflect on this…I have fought anti-Semitism all my political life & have been a Labour Friend of Israel since joining as a student at the LSE (London School of Economics and Political Science). I am deeply sorry that my clumsy tweet has caused offense.”
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism noted Sheerman’s crafty use of the “silver shekels” reference, “alluding in one fell swoop to both classic and modern anti-Semitic tropes about Jews corrupting politics with money and being more loyal to Israel than their own countries.”
The CAA is demanding that Sheerman “immediately face disciplinary proceedings and lose the whip of both the Labour and Co-operative Parties.”
Losing the whip is very serious business in the British parliament. It means that an MP is expelled from their party because they in some way failed or disgraced their party leadership. They do not lose their seat – that’s the prerogative of their district voters – but ntil their whip is restored, they sit as an independent.
The CAA argued: “Sir Keir Starmer also has a more fundamental question to answer about his parliamentary party: how long are Labour MPs capable of going without making brazenly anti-Semitic statements? Labour’s anti-Semitism problem apparently goes well beyond the Party’s far-left contingent.”
Barry Sheerman, who is 80, became the MP for Huddersfield East from 1979 to 1983 and for Huddersfield since 1983. In the most recent general election, in 2019, Sheerman’s majority was cut down to 4,937 with a swing of 7.8% to his Conservative opponent.
Sheerman is a member of Labour Friends of Israel. Which gives you an idea of what the Labour enemies of Israel might sound like.