Labour candidate steps aside after antisemitic comment

A Labour candidate has stepped down from his prospective seat over allegations he used an antisemitic trope in a council meeting.

Gideon Bull, who was supposed to stand in Clacton-on-Sea denies he called a Jewish cabinet member “Shylock”, a reference to the Jewish moneylender character in William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

But he accepted now is not the best time to stand. It comes shortly after Conservative candidate, Nick Conrad, stepped down from his seat over rape comments.

Subsequently, a letter emerged via The Red Roar, a politics gossip website, which showed concerns had been expressed over Mr Bull’s use of the words “N*****” and “P***” during a site visit while he was a councillor.

The letter states: “You will recall that you used the word ‘N*****’ – N (twice) and ‘P***’ P(once) – to express how you thought residents in your ward might react to the suggestion that under occupiers down size to make way for larger families.

“You said that people in your ward won’t want to give up their homes for Ns and Ps.”

Sky’s political correspondent Rob Powell put the letter to Mr Bull, who told him he had “no comment”.

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Mr Bull was reported to have made the Shylock comment to his Haringey Council colleague Zena Brabazon, who then made a complaint.

He is the council’s cabinet member for local investment and growth.

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In a statement, he said: “The allegation that I called a Jewish cabinet member ‘Shylock’ is entirely false.

“When she politely informed me that this saying was offensive, I immediately apologised and explained that I did not know that Shylock was Jewish and I would never have mentioned Shylock if I had known this.

“I grew up in a working class area in Ilford where this was a common saying, but I didn’t know it was offensive.

“This was a genuine accident and I reiterate my sincere apology for this mistake.”

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He has said he was using the term in an analogy about a housing decision and wasn’t talking about the councillor.

The Campaign Against Antisemitism’s head of political and government investigations, Joe Glasman, said the comment was “unacceptable”.

He said: “Gideon Bull’s comment, in which he called a Jewish fellow councillor ‘Shylock’, after the villainous Shakespearean Jewish character, was unacceptable, and of course he had to withdraw his candidacy.”

Mr Bull is the third Labour candidate to step down in one day.

Kate Ramsden, the party’s candidate for Gordon in Scotland, stood down over a blog in which she likened Israel to a child abuser.

And Frances Hoole lost the party endorsement in Edinburgh South following a controversial tweet attacking her opponent Joanna Cherry.

The Labour Party did not respond to request for comment from PA.

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