Published: 20:00, 04 May 2016
Labour is facing a deepening row over the suspension of a leading figure in the Kent branch of the left wing campaign group Momentum.
Jacqueline Walker has been suspended by the party for controversial comments about the Holocaust.
Ms Walker, who lives in Broadstairs, has become a key figure in Momentum and the Thanet branch of the left wing group which supports Jeremy Corbyn.
She is vice chairman of the group’s national steering committee.
It has emerged that her suspension has prompted Momentum to launch a campaign demanding Labour reverse its decision and calling on members to e-mail party general secretary Ian McNicol.
Meanwhile, her partner Graham Bash has accused Labour of a witchhunt. In an editorial for the left-wing Labour Briefing, he writes:
"What is happening in the party today is an attempt to cynically use rare examples, and usually false allegations, of anti-Semitism as part of a McCarthyite witchhunt against supporters of Jeremy."
One Labour source said the fact that Momentum was mobilising a campaign to support her rather than helping get its vote out on election day was "depressing."
Ms Walker posted on Facebook in response to a critic who had asked her about the Holocaust by writing about the “African holocaust.”
She wrote: “As I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews.”
She posted on Wednesday about the on-going row within the party over anti-semitism.
She said it was a “lie” to suggest there was a “major problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party”.
“Like everywhere in British society the Labour Party fails, and fails too often, to be what we would want it to be - a bastion of socialism and internationalism,” she wrote.
“The chief victims of those failures however are not people of Jewish descent, but are the many other representatives of other minorities under-represented in the structures of the LP and discriminated against inside and outside the LP economically, culturally and politically in contemporary Britain.”
In a statement, she strongly denied being anti-semitic, pointing out she herself was of Jewish descent:
I have been spat at and beaten by racists. I have marched against the fascists, defended minorities, am of Jewish descent as is my partner - Jackie Walker
"I have been suspended from the Labour Party for allegedly anti-Semitic comments. I have been an active anti-racist trainer and campaigner for years, often in all white communities and in the most vulnerable situations. I have been spat at and beaten by racists. I have marched against the fascists, defended minorities, am of Jewish descent as is my partner. If they can do this to me they can do it to anyone."
In a brief statement, the Labour party said it had suspended Ms Walker pending an investigation.
Her suspension has been condemned by KARN - the Kent Anti Racism Network. It issued a statement saying it had been politically motivated.
The statement said:
The Kent Anti-Racism Network (KARN) is appalled to hear of the suspension of Jackie Walker from the Labour Party today. We understand that she is being investigated for comments that have been deemed anti-Semitic by the Israel Advocacy Movement."
"Jackie Walker is a founder member of KARN. She is of Jewish heritage and her partner is Jewish. She works tirelessly to combat racism in all its forms, and has been a key player in coordinating the response to the recent fascist demonstrations that have been focused on Dover."
It went on: "We believe that Jackie Walker’s suspension is politically motivated. We support her unequivocally and urge the labour movement to stand with one of their most committed anti-racist campaigners."
Jeremy Corbyn recently announced an inquiry into anti-semitism and other forms of racism in the party, following the suspension of Ken Livingstone and MP Naz Shah for controversial comments both made.