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Dundee Labour MSP urged to apologise to Jewish communities over tweet

Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba tweeted her support for Ken Loach

Dundee-based Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba has been criticised by the Scottish Conservatives over a social media post where she expressed support for veteran Labour Party member and acclaimed film director Ken Loach.

Mr Loach, 85, a life long socialist, says he had been ejected from the Labour Party after refusing to “disown” other critics from the Labour left who had already been removed.

Last month the party expelled four associated groups on the grounds they were “not compatible” with Labour values, including groups which had been critical of Sir Keir Starmer’s efforts to tackle anti-Semitism within the party’s ranks.

In a defiant series of tweets, Loach insisted the “clique” around the Labour leader would never ultimately prevail.

On Saturday Mercedes Villalba, a MSP on the north-east regional list, tweeted her support for Loach saying “the Labour Party was founded by and for trade unionists and socialists. We must not abandon our roots.

“Solidarity with Ken Loach.”

Tweet from Labour MSP Mercedes Villalba

‘Crass and appalling views’

The Scottish Conservatives say it’s “utterly shocking” that Ms Villalba would “brazenly come out and back somebody with such crass and appalling views.”

“She has nailed her colours to supporting someone who openly called for Labour MPs to be kicked out the party for protesting against antisemitism and says the topic of Holocaust denial should be open to discussion” says north-east MPS Maurice Golden.

“Our Jewish communities will be ashamed to see Mercedes Villalba take this stance” he adds.

“She should re-think this opinion immediately and apologise to those in our Jewish communities who have been longing for action against Ken Loach to be taken by the Labour Party.”

Maurice Golden, MSP

Concern over ‘significant increase in antisemitism’

This week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with representatives from the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities to hear more about their concerns on antisemitism.

“We gave examples of antisemitic graffiti and abuse in local secondary schools, verbal abuse and attacks on Jewish students on campus, and the vulnerability of Jewish people in remote areas” the Council says in a statement.

Many of those incidents in Scotland came during the Israel-Gaza conflict in May and June which Jewish charity CST calls an “unprecedented wave of antisemitism.”

After the meeting the first minister said her government was working to develop a new hate crime strategy.

“I would like to reassure our Jewish communities that antisemitism will not be tolerated in Scotland, and we remain committed to tackling it.”

“It unequivocally remains the case that matters abroad do not, and can not, justify antisemitism or expressions of racial or religious hatred of any form.”

Mercedes Villalba has been contacted for comment. Scottish Labour declined to comment on the issue as it involved a disciplinary matter with Ken Loach.

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