I’m writing this post with a very heavy heart. Earlier today, the Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) decided not to endorse me as South Thanet’s parliamentary candidate. This flies in the face of local democracy, and it goes against everything I sought to represent.
The NEC’s decision was taken on the basis of three tweets that were posted from the Centre for Cultural Change Twitter account, run by a group of academics, to which I occasionally contributed well before I decided to stand as a parliamentary candidate.
The Centre for Cultural Change tweets were in no way intended to imply that antisemitism doesn’t exist in the Labour Party. They were taken out of context on the right-wing Guido Fawkes hate blog to imply that I was antisemitic.
We have reason to believe that the connection between me and the Centre for Cultural Change Twitter account was leaked to Guido Fawkes by Craig Mackinlay’s disgraced former aide, Sam Armstrong, and he posted evidence on his own blog that he was acting on information provided to him by one of our members who lost out in South Thanet Labour’s parliamentary selection.
This morning, I met a panel of the NEC, armed with a dozen endorsements from local party members, a respected rabbi, an Oxford University antisemitism expert and a sizeable group of parliamentary candidates from around the country, all of whom said in various different ways that neither I nor the tweets were antisemitic. Despite all of these endorsements and the fact that I had notified the party and worked with staff to issue a public apology as soon as the tweets first came to light, the NEC decided not to endorse me on the basis that the tweets had the potential to bring the party into disrepute. This overturns the democratic decision that local members made in April, and it deprives us of the right to appeal.
The past eight months have been the very best and the very worst of my life. The very best because I’ve had the chance to work alongside you, our dedicated members, and to meet some of the fantastic people working to make our community a better place. The very worst because I’ve been the target of vicious attacks from the Tories, the National Front and members of our own party. I’d like to thank all of you who supported the parliamentary team and worked alongside us to bring the Labour message of hope to one of the most deprived communities in the country. I want you to know that I gave everything I have, both personally and financially, to win this seat for Labour.
I’ll spend the holiday period considering my options. I’d like to find a way of shedding some light on the people who seek to prevent us making the changes that our country so badly needs. In the meantime, I’m happy to answer any questions you may have about this sorry situation.