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Dover and Deal Conservative candidate Stephen James faces calls to be suspended for ‘antisemitic’ social media post

The Conservative Dover and Deal parliamentary candidate is facing calls to be suspended by Labour after he posted an image the party called “antisemitic”.

In a now-deleted X (formerly Twitter) post, Stephen James posted a cartoon depicting men with hooked noses at the White Cliffs of Dover carrying bags of “false hopes".

Stephen James, Conservative candidate for Dover and Deal
Stephen James, Conservative candidate for Dover and Deal

He went on to claim he was “the only true local candidate” and criticised so-called "carpetbaggers" – political candidates who seek election in an area where they have no local connections.

Posting on Sunday evening, the 40-year-old said: “I’m the only true local candidate for #Dover, #Deal & The Villages. Unlike the carpetbaggers, I live, work, and raise my family in East Kent.”

Mr James has since said he "apologises wholeheartedly for any offence caused by this image" and has deleted it from social media.

He placed blame on the image being "created by AI which usually has safeguards to stop harmful images being created, but on this instance fell short".

Mr James said: “I want to unequivocally state that I abhor antisemitism and any form of discrimination.

“I apologise wholeheartedly for any offence caused by this image…”

“As someone who has written for the Times of Israel on antisemitism, I am acutely aware of the importance of vigilance against such instances. As a veteran, I have fought for my country against hatred and will continue to do so.

“The image was created using an AI app based on the work of political artist Thomas Nast and Gerald Scarfe. I chose Nast as I was speaking about “carpetbaggers” in reference to a fellow candidate who has no ties to the area they want to represent.

“AI has safeguards to prevent the creation of offensive images, but on this occasion, it fell short and I shall be extra vigilant going forward.

“I apologise wholeheartedly for any offence caused by this image.”

Speaking on a visit to Kent, Labour's shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry urged Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives to suspend Mr James from the election, saying: "Anyone who posts material like that isn't fit to be an MP."

Ms Thornberry added it showed an "appalling lack of judgement".

A Labour spokesperson said that "sharing antisemitic material is unacceptable".

The spokesperson added: "Rishi Sunak should condemn Mr James’s actions, and immediately suspend him as a candidate. "

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “The party has spoken to this individual and reminded them of the party’s code of conduct and standards expected of candidates including on social media."

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