Labour suspends Peterborough councillors in fresh antisemitism storm

The Labour Party has been rocked by yet another antisemitism scandal as seven Labour councillors in Peterborough – and a number of other local members – have been suspended amid claims of anti-Jewish racism.

Jewish News broke the story and reported that the suspensions came after party officials allegedly became aware that “antisemitic tropes around alleged Zionist control of leader Sir Keir Starmer, along with videos of hate speeches of extremists” were circulating.

The suspended councillors are Ansar Ali, Angus Ellis, Samantha Hemraj, Mahboob Hussain, Shabina Qayyum, Aasiyah Joseph, and Mohammed Jamil.

Four local party members and two members of the North Cambridgeshire CLP were also suspended.

Two other Labour councillors, Ed Murphy and Heather Skibsted, were previously suspended although the cause of their suspension has not been made public – meaning that more than half of the party’s seventeen councillors in Peterborough are now suspended.

Speaking to investigative news outlet Vote Watch, local MP Paul Bristow called on representatives of the Jewish Leadership Council to come to the town and address directly the “specific and identifiable problem” of anti-Jewish racism in local politics.

“We must lift this shadow over politics in our city. It is incumbent on all parties to improve understanding and tackle unacceptable actions, comments and behaviour” he said.

A Labour spokesman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.

“We are determined to root out all forms of antisemitism from our party and it is testament to our commitment to zero tolerance that we will not be influenced by an election timetable.”

The story is particularly embarrassing for Labour following the release of a damning report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission last year over claims of institutional antisemitism.