Labour councillor shows integrity and quits Labour to defend anti-Semitism accusations

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A Crawley councillor has quit the Labour Party after being accused of anti-Semitism.

Karen Sudan, who represents Northgate and West Green at both West Sussex County Council and Crawley Borough Council, said she decided to leave the party so that she could defend herself against the allegations, which centre around three Tweets on her Twitter feed.

It’s a rare moment when we see a politician with integrity, one willing to stand up and fight their position in this climate of cancel culture. A Labour Party councillor willing to speak out against the witchhunt and just say ‘no, you will not cow me down’.

Mrs Sudan, who has been a Labour member for 50 years, said: “I’m not an anti-Semite. If these three Tweets are evidence of it, it’s pathetic.”

The first Tweet, which was written in June 2017, announced that she opposed ‘all kinds of racism’ but had ‘blocked Labour Against Anti Semitism’.

The second, written in August 2018, accused the mainstream media of being ‘too busy making up and/or exaggerating stories about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party’ to raise an outcry over other forms of racism.

The third, written in January, shared a link to an article titled Reject The Ten Pledges.

The article claimed the idea that there was an anti-Semitism problem within the party had been ‘widely debunked’ and called an interjection by the Board of Deputies ‘politically motivated weaponisation of anti-Semitism to attack the left and the Palestine solidarity movement’.

Mrs Sudan said she was a supporter of the Palestinian cause and said of the accusations against her: “It is absolutely totally flimsy and I’m happy for anyone to take those Tweets anywhere and stand trial in front of anyone on it.

“If I was a member of the Labour Party, I would have to keep quiet about that – and if I spoke about it to anybody I would be suspended.

They would know I was under investigation but they wouldn’t know why and I wouldn’t be able to discuss it and I wouldn’t be able to defend myself.

“The only way I could do that and stop the gossip and the maligning stuff that would be around it was to resign from the party and put it out there so that people can see how stupid and ridiculous it is.

“I have a choice that I can fight this. But to be honest, I’m a twin-hatted councillor in a time of utter crisis and I don’t need to be doing that.

“My residents need me.”

Her resignation statement reads:

“I have been a member of the Labour Party for almost 50 years. I have outstayed many Party leaders and my resignation is nothing to do with the recent change of leadership.

I was elected to be a voice for the people I represent, but Back Benchers under the current Council leadership have to fight to be heard – even those in the controlling group.

The Coronavirus crisis made it even more important for there to be input from all Councillors and at the outset I suggested setting up a crisis committee (which could, and perhaps should, involve opposition members. Their residents have as much right to representation as others). The Council Leader dismissed this suggestion, even though there was support for it from other Labour members. He said that councillors have no role to play in the current crisis, and he has acted unilaterally all along.

Although I would not say that Peter Lamb has not worked hard or done his best, I believe that CBC’s response to the Crisis has been poorer for lack of input from those of us who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, know our Town and understand ‘our’ residents. We are by no means out of the woods with Coronavirus – only yesterday I was discussing with colleagues at West Sussex CC, the likelihood and danger of localised outbreaks and/or a second wave. All elected representatives should have a voice and a role to play. This goes beyond the many things we have done and are doing as human beings to help one another.

This was my position on Saturday evening when I received a ‘Notice of Investigation’ from Party HQ, accusing me of antisemitism, the ‘evidence’ was three tweets, one posted 2017, another 2018 and one from 2020. This ‘evidence’, which I am prepared to share and put before any judge and jury, fiend or enemy, is a joke.

I do not know what triggered this, but I know from others’ experience how the Party works. While I was a Party member, I would be bound to keep this ‘investigation’ confidential. This would lead to gossip and a stain on my character and a great deal of stress. The ‘investigation’ would be allowed to ‘hang’ indefinitely to be used as an excuse to prevent me standing for office again or accepting office such as a Cabinet position.

I have chosen instead to resign my Party membership so that I can continue to focus on the job I have been elected to do (and I do see it as a job) and so that anyone who wishes to judge me can have available the original documents and make up their own mind about my anti-racist credentials.

Councillor Karen Sudan 

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