Conservative MP Paul Bristow has explained his decision to employ a former Labour city councillor.
The Peterborough MP says he is convinced Ansar Ali, who quit the Labour group in January and then stood, unsuccessfully in May as an independent, “will stand with me in the fight against hatred and antisemitism.
“He will use his experience and mistakes as lessons for others. He will work to bring our city’s diverse communities together based on mutual respect. Ultimately the proof will be in actions, not words, and I look forward to this being demonstrated.”
In a first-person article published this week by the Jewish Chronicle entitled ‘Why I have employed a former Labour councillor who was once suspended for antisemitism’ Mr Bristow says he is fully aware of Mr Ali’s background and social media comments.
“Some of the material he commented on is unacceptable,” says Mr Bristow.
“Stating an article was ‘interesting and thought-provoking’ that asked how many British MPs are working for Israel not only advances stereotypes, but it also indicates to others there is value in something which is fundamentally anti-Jewish at its core.
“Similarly sharing an article about a medal dating back to the Nazi era, bearing a swastika on one face and a Star of David on the reverse was grotesque propaganda used by the Nazis and can never be justified.”
But the MP says that Mr Ali “regrets deeply this social media activity and now sees clearly why it is antisemitic. In an environment where material such as this (and worse) is being shared openly, he should have known much better.
“He believes – as I do – we need to go much further than simply apologising and moving on. I think all councillors in Peterborough need to go through antisemitism training as a matter of course. We have a deserved reputational issue. We owe it to Peterborough to address it.”
Mr Bristow feels Peterborough is no exception when it comes to “antisemitism on Facebook from a small minority. At the most extreme end, you get sickening holocaust denial from people”.
Mr Bristow says Mr Ali has been a magistrate, a senior professional council officer, a county and city Councillor, and “respected community activist for many years. This does not give him a free pass. Indeed, I should have checked closely the reasons for his suspension back in 2021.
“But I employed someone part time, for a very specific role, with an otherwise good reputation”.
You can read the full article from the Jewish Chronicle by clicking the link below
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