North Yorkshire councillor suspended over ‘antisemitic’ comments

Councillor Pat Marsh.

A long-serving Liberal Democrat councillor and former mayor of Harrogate has been suspended by her national party over a series of “antisemitic” comments about the Israeli offensive in Gaza.

Shortly after learning of Councillor Pat Marsh’s comments on Twitter in which she described Jews as “vile”, “evil” and “a disgrace to the world”, the national party said it had also launched an investigation into the remarks, while North Yorkshire Council’s Liberal Democrats immediately suspended her from the group.

A spokesperson for the national Liberal Democrat Party said: “These appalling antisemitic views have no place in our party. Ms Marsh has been removed from the council group and has been reported to the council’s standards officer.”

Liberal Democrat group leader on the authority, Councillor Bryn Griffiths, added: “These comments in no way represent our group or our views.”

Speaking after her suspension, Coun Marsh, who has represented Harrogate residents for more than three decades, said the series of comments she made between January 22 and Friday highlighted her opposition, “as a grandmother and a mother to the slaughter of 14,200 innocent children”.

The posts included: “Hope you Jews feel proud of yourselves. Remember what happened to you during the Second World War why would you do the same? Act like adults and get round the table to get a fair and lasting solution.”

Another post stated: “We can’t believe what your Jewish country is doing to Palestinians it is outrageous, killing children cutting off their hands and other atrocities do you not feel frightened for them!!!”

When asked why she had repeatedly referred to Jews rather than Israel in the posts, Coun Marsh said: “It’s them that I am seeing abusing children. I suppose it’s Israel, but they are all Jewish aren’t they? I don’t think you can live in Israel without being a Jew.

“I am against what they are doing to the Gazan people. I’m just trying to be a human being. I’m not antisemitic, it’s the fact it’s they are the ones doing it at the moment.  I can’t say you naughty French or German people. It is being done by Israelis.”

However, numerous councillors said they had been shocked by Coun Marsh’s comments, and condemned them as “abhorrent” before calling for her to resign as a councillor.

The leader of North Yorkshire Council has called on a long-serving councillor to consider her position as an elected community representative over ‘antisemitic’ comments she made on social media.

Councillor Carl Les, leader of the authority’s Conservative group, said  Councillor Pat Marsh had been a senior member of the Liberal Democrats group until the comments came to light, rather than a novice councillor who had made a mistake.

Coun Les said: “I think the tweets she has made may be criminal, that’s for others to investigate and decide. I would think she should consider her position. The comments I have seen are outrageous and offensive.

“I understand a number of complaints have been made to the monitoring officer. I don’t follow Pat Marsh’s Twitter account so I haven’t seen these before, but I understand there is a number of them.”

Coun Les, who has led the authority since 2015, has previously underlined he understands prejudice having grown up as the son of a refugee from Poland and wants North Yorkshire to be a multi-cultural and a welcoming place for all.

He said: “There is no place in our society, in our county or in our council for discrimination, prejudice or hate in any form.”

Councillor Steve Shaw Wright, the council’s Labour group leader, said: “I’m speechless. It shouldn’t be a suspension matter, it’s a resigning matter.”

Conservative councillor for Helmsley division, George Jabbour, an immigrant from Syria, said he had submitted a complaint to the council as “these repulsive remarks breach several code of conduct obligations” elected members must follow.

Leader of the council’s Independent group, Councillor Stuart Parsons said: “The consequences of the war are horrendous, but this is not a Jewish question. It’s a question for the state of Israel and Jewish community in this country have nothing to do with what Israel decides it must do.”

5 Comments

  1. Just to counter Cllr Marsh on one of her points. Over 20% of those living in Israel Arab!

    She appears to be totally unaware of this so one wonders what else she is unaware of!

    • You are confusing ethnicity with religion, and, although you’re correct in saying that not all inhabitants of Israel are Jewish, all immigrants to Israel (as opposed to the Arabs whose ancestors lived there for centuries) are, by definition, Zionists.
      Unfortunately many people don’t know the difference between anti-semitism and anti-Zionism and those of us who do are often castigated simply for being well informed.

  2. What an odious woman . Even the squeaky clean LibDems have anti Semites in their ranks. The Police should investigate.

  3. Not enough people are speaking out over this genocide. If only she had replaced the word ‘Israeli’ for the word Jew. She refers to the period of the second World War, would she have blamed all Germans for what happened?

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