Due to the sterling efforts of the Tweeter known as Mates Jacob (and formerly as Racists 4 Rees Mogg) we have seen the propensity of Tory members to lapse into forthright racism on an all too regular basis. What we have also seen is the occasional instance of anti-Semitism. Now has come an absolutely bang to rights example of Tory anti-Semitism, and yet there has been no press interest whatsoever.
The episode has been detailed by the Wirral In It Together (Geddit?!?!?) blog, but a summary is being posted by Zelo Street, such is the importance which I believe should attach to it. It happened during Wirral Council’s budget meeting, held on March 4.
Here is what WIIT had to say about the incident. “During this meeting, Councillor Ian Lewis - Wirral’s Tory leader - raised an official motion aimed at silencing and removing the freedom of speech of Bromborough / New Ferry Jewish Councillor Jo Bird”. How so?
“Ian Lewis used a little-known … section of Wirral Council Standing Orders (Section 12(13) … The key words used here are… ‘I move that a member be not heard.’” Moreover, “Because Ian Lewis knew or should reasonably have known Councillor Jo bird to be a Jewish councillor, his actions were [arguably] both anti-Semitic and discriminatory”. The wording is meant to apply to unruly councillors. Which Coun. Bird was not.
The upshot of Coun. Lewis’ move? “19 Tory councillors and 3 Independent Councillors voted for the motion. 32 cross party councillors voted against it and there was one abstention … This … then gave Ian Lewis’s party the excuse they needed to … walk out of the chamber en masse”. When? During Jo Bird’s speech. I kid you not.
So she managed to begin “I’m sorry that the Wirral Conservatives feel the need to leave the chamber at this point. You will not be able to hear the voice of Bromborough and New Ferry residents” before WIIT notes “[interruption by Mayor Geoffrey Watt to facilitate the Tory / Independent walk-out]”. So they didn’t hear her next words.
“It is unfortunate that the Conservative members have chosen to leave, thereby depriving their own residents of their voice in this chamber. And I’d like to address everybody, fellow councillors and residents of Wirral. I nip out during the Christian prayers here partly because I’m Jewish. My great-grandparents were refugees from ethnic cleansing and fascism in Europe. My grandfather never knew his cousins because they perished in the Holocaust. I know from lived experience what racism against Jewish people looks like, and it’s vile. Just today I received anti-Semitic hate emails”.
As the bizarre spectacle of a Jewish Councillor being ritually humiliated by the Tories continued, she observed “And actually what gives me nightmares these days are … Conservative leaders like Theresa May, creating what she herself calls a hostile environment for migrants who enrich our country, such as the Windrush generation. And we’ve seen just right now the hostile environment created by Conservatives in the Wirral. It is Labour who have led every piece of anti-racist legislation in this country”. Quite.
What you will not see in the Tory-supporting press. Or in the social media feeds of minor Slebs. Or on the broadcast airwaves. Might have been different if she’d been a Tory.
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