Scotland politics

Fife Labour councillor suspended in anti-Semitism row

Mary Bain Lockhart Image copyright Fife Labour
Image caption Mary Lockhart said she had been suspended while a Facebook post was investigated by Labour

A councillor in Fife has been suspended from Scottish Labour while comments she made about the anti-Semitism row surrounding the party are investigated.

Mary Lockhart suggested in a Facebook post that headlines critical of Labour's position could be the work of the Israeli security services.

This followed the UK's three main Jewish newspapers uniting to speak out against a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.

The party said it took complaints about anti-Semitism "extremely seriously".

Labour has come under fire from Jewish leaders and some of its own MPs over a new code of conduct.

The new rulebook - approved by the party's National Executive Committee earlier in July - includes the definition of anti-Semitism given by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), but excludes some of the body's "working examples".

This prompted three of the UK's main Jewish newspapers - the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph - to publish the same front page, claiming that a Jeremy Corbyn government would post an "existential threat to Jewish life".

Labour says its own wording "expands on and contextualises" the IHRA examples.

Image copyright Victoria King
Image caption Three of the UK's main Jewish newspapers led with the same front page criticising Labour

Ms Lockhart's comments - revealed by the Courier newspaper - raised the possibility that Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency, could be behind the stories.

According to the newspaper, she wrote: "If the purpose is to generate opposition to anti-Semitism, it has backfired spectacularly. If it is to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, it is unlikely to succeed, and it is a shameless piece of cynical opportunism.

"And if it is a Mossad assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour government pledged to recognise Palestine as a state, it is unacceptable interference in the democracy of Britain."

The Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty representative went on to add that "the Labour party is neither racist nor anti-Semitic", and claimed that Israel "is a racist state".

Ms Lockhart later posted that she had been suspended from the party "to allow consideration of whether or not one of my Facebook posts breached the Labour Party's rules in respect of anti-Semitism".

She said she had deleted the original post and "will not be commenting further on this or any other matter until a judgement has been made".

Scottish Conservative MP Paul Masterton said the remarks were "ignorant, offensive and horrifying".

A Labour spokesperson said: "The Labour Party takes all complaints of anti-Semitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms.

"All complaints about anti-Semitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken."

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