A Green Party councillor has apologised after saying claims of antisemitism in the Labour Party are ‘right-wing press smears’.
Cllr Nicola Day, representative for Orton Waterville on Peterborough City Council, said she will undertake training to develop her understanding of antisemitism following her comments and that she “abhors antisemitism in all forms”.
Cllr Day was elected in May as the second every Green city councillor.
In a Twitter conversation with Jay Beecher, a former deputy chairman of UKIP Peterborough and former Conservative city council candidate, who co-ordinated the Vote Leave campaign in Peterborough in 2016, she tweeted: “Labour are almost not anti Semitic and you know that too. They are being smeared by right wing press because big people in big places with lots of money. The 1% don’t wanna pay tax fairly and share things with everyone else. It’s all a big lie. You know that.”
Asked again about her “big lie” comment, she replied: “To protect the elite from socialist policy.”
Cllr Day was previously a Labour Party member who defected to the Greens before standing for the party in the 2015 General Election in the North West Cambridgeshire constituency.
Labour is currently being investigated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission as to whether it has unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish.
Cllr Day tweeted this morning: “I recently tweeted inappropriately. I understand now I didn’t fully grasp the issues I was tweeting about. I apologise wholeheartedly for the tweets and will undertake training to develop my understanding of antisemitism. I abhor antisemitism in all forms.”
The Green Party’s council group leader Cllr Julie Howell said the tweets were not Green Party policy and “could be deemed offensive”, so Cllr Day had been asked to apologise.
MP for Peterborough Lisa Forbes is also currently undertaking an antisemitism training course.
The Labour MP, who was elected in June, faced heavy criticism from Jewish groups and Labour MPs - some of whom put in formal complaints against her straight after her election victory - after it came to light during the campaign that she had liked an antisemitic Facebook post which said Theresa May has a “Zionist slave masters agenda”.
Ms Forbes “apologised wholeheartedly” and said she would “deepen” her understanding of antisemitism”.
She told the Peterborough Telegraph last month that she was “determined to regain the trust of the Jewish community” and was undertaking a training course to “understand more about antisemitism”.
Asked by the PT this week for further information about the course, she replied: “The course I am taking is called Yad Vashem which I highly recommend as I have found it both educational and enlightening.
“It is not a Labour Party course and is open to anyone who wishes to enhance their knowledge and understanding of antisemitism from its historical origins to the present.”