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27 April 2016

Naz Shah suspended by Labour hours after Jeremy Corbyn praised her apology

The Bradford MP has had the Labour whip removed while she is investigated for anti-semitic comments made on social media.

By Henry Zeffman Henry Zeffman

The Labour MP Naz Shah has been “administratively suspended” by the Labour Party while she is investigated for anti-semitic comments she made on Twitter and Facebook before she became an MP. A Labour spokesperson said: “Jeremy Corbyn and Naz Shah have mutually agreed that she is adminstratively suspended from the Labour Party by the General Secretary. Pending investigation, she is unable to take part in any party activity and the whip is removed.”

Shah’s suspension on Wednesday afternoon came mere hours after the Labour leader had declined to follow usual party process by suspending her. Corbyn’s original decision caused tensions within his Shadow Cabinet, when Lisa Nandy, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary, told the BBC’s Daily Politics that Shah should be suspended – unaware that Corbyn’s office had only minutes before issued a statement praising Shah’s “fulsome apology”. 

Nandy said: “We have a policy in the Labour Party that people who make anti-semitic remarks are suspended and an investigation is carried out. Now I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the conversation that Jeremy is about to have with her, but I have made clear to the leader’s office my view that that policy ought to be followed without exception.”

Shortly before Nandy’s comments, the Labour leader had released a statement saying: “What Naz Shah did was offensive and unacceptable. I have spoken to her and made this clear. These are historic social media posts made before she was a Member of Parliament.

“Naz has issued a fulsome apology. She does not hold these views and accepts she was completely wrong to have made these posts. The Labour Party is implacably opposed to anti-Semitism and all forms of racism.”

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Yesterday Guido Fawkes revealed that Shah, who defeated George Galloway to become MP for Bradford West in May 2015, had shared a Facebook graphic in August 2014 arguing that Israel should be relocated to the USA. It subsequently emerged that in the same month, just 9 months before she became an MP, Shah had also linked on Twitter to a blog claiming Zionism had been used to “groom” Jews to “exert political influence at the highest levels of public office.” The following month, she likened Israel’s actions to those of Adolf Hitler.  

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Shah resigned yesterday as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell. Today she issued a lengthy statement to Jewish News, writing that “for someone who knows the scourge of oppression and racism all too well, it is important that I make an unequivocal apology for statements and ideas that I have foolishly endorsed in the past.”

Shah said: “The language I used was wrong. It is hurtful. What’s important is the impact these posts have had on other people. I understand that referring to Israel and Hitler as I did is deeply offensive to Jewish people for which I apologise.”

The Bradford MP said that she recognised her comments had “caused hurt to … the Jewish community, my constituents, friends and family” and that she “sincerely hope[s] my intentions and actions from here on in will win back your trust and faith in me.”