Glasgow & West Scotland

Labour suspends Paisley councillor over Israel blog posts

Terry Kelly Image copyright Terry Kelly
Image caption Mr Kelly has written strongly in defence of former London mayor Ken Livingstone

A Scottish Labour councillor has been suspended from the party over a series of posts on his blog about Zionism and Israel.

Renfrewshire Council member Terry Kelly, who wrote strongly in defence of Ken Livingstone, has been suspended by Labour pending an investigation.

In posts on his blog, Mr Kelly refers to Israel as a "war criminal state".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has set up an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism and racism in the party.

It comes after former London mayor Mr Livingstone was suspended from the party for making comments about Hitler while speaking in defence of MP Naz Shah, who had earlier been suspended over accusations she was anti-Semitic.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the row, which has chiefly focused on Westminster figures, was having an impact on her Holyrood campaign north of the border.

'Beggars belief'

Writing in defence of Mr Livingstone, Paisley North West representative Mr Kelly described himself as "anti Zionist and anti Israel".

He wrote: "To accept the charge of anti-Semitism you have to also accept that opposition to Zionism and Israel means you are anti-Semitic.

"I like many many others fit that bill of being anti Zionist and anti Israel, and also like those others I refute that accusation because I and they are not anti-Jewish in any way, nor are millions of Jews worldwide who agree with me."

In posts dating back to 2008, Mr Kelly complained about the "Jewish lobby" attempting to influence the Academy Awards, as well as comparing the actions of Israelis to the Holocaust.

Commenting on the situation in Gaza, Mr Kelly wrote: "Israel decided that the children and old and sick would continue to suffer and die. This is being done by the survivors of the Holocaust, it beggars belief that the Jewish people who suffered so much could treat innocent children this way but that's what they are doing.

"They are bringing shame on decent Jewish people all over the world. There must be millions of Jews all around the world who abhor what Israel is doing, why don't we hear their voices, when will they stand up and shout 'enough'?"

'Simply unelectable'

Renfewshire Council said Mr Kelly had not been suspended as a councillor, but said he could not serve on boards or committees he attends as a party representative while he is suspended by Labour.

A spokesperson for Renfrewshire Council's SNP group said Mr Kelly's conduct was "proof that Labour are not fit to govern".

"Councillor Kelly has made clear many times on social media his support for the view of the Iranian leadership that Israel has no right to exist, this denies the voice of the Israeli peace movement and progressive voices that want a change of policy on the Palestinian question," the spokesperson said.

"Councillor Kelly was a Militant supporter in the 1980s, and comes from the same hard left stable as Jeremy Corbyn. Labour is simply unelectable these days, and this is proof."

A spokesman for Scottish Labour said: "Terry Kelly has been suspended from the Labour Party pending an investigation."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites