Calls on SNP to suspend Council leader and condemn 'hate-crime' blog
Nicola Sturgeon has come under increasing pressure to suspend the acting SNP council group leader in West Lothian, Frank Anderson, after he defended an article accusing a Jewish trade unionist of knowing how to "make the most" of Adolf Hitler's "outlook" on trade unions.
The blog, who's author Gareth Wardell has now been suspended from the Scottish Nationalist Party, also cites Mein Kampf, Hitler's autobiographical text.
The article was shared by various SNP social media channels, including the SNP Edinburgh East and Livingston East pages, as well as a campaign page for two West Lothian councillors.
One of those councillors, Frank Anderson, defended the article, telling the National that: “I don’t accept that it was an anti-Semitic article, nor was I aware of any of Miss Wolfson’s Jewish heritage.”
“The article was, in context, about the self-serving attitude of Labour.”
The comments were met with outrage by opposition politicians, with Labour's Neil Findlay demanding that Sturgeon "take action" and suspend the councillor.
"To defend this anti-Semitic attack on a trade union organiser is simply beyond the pale." he added,
“The SNP must ensure there is a thorough investigation into every case of this blog being promoted through the party’s social media channels."
“Any attempt to brush this off would be simply unacceptable.”
In a statement, Cllr Anderson said: "I’ve now had the opportunity to properly understand the offence caused to Rhea Wolfson by this blog."
"I was unaware of her Jewish heritage and therefore did not appreciate how hurtful the words would be."
"I unreservedly apologise to her for my embarrassing lack of understanding of these issues and my part in the offence that she has suffered."
Meanwhile, The Red Robin has reached out to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, over whether he would condemn the article as a potential hate crime, and investigate whether it broke any current Scottish laws.
To date we have not received any response, although Mr. Yousaf did tweet out "We all have a responsibility to stamp out anti-semitism wherever we see it - within or outwith." this morning, after the news that the blog's author had been suspended from the SNP.
A Labour party source condemned the Justice Secretary's "silence" on the issue, commenting: "The blog published on Sunday and shared by SNP activists and councillors was hateful, vile antisemitism. In his role as Justice Secretary he should be taking the lead on initiating a police investigation into the blog, and a part investigation into the sharing of it by the SNP."
"People can only conclude from his silence that his record of commenting on allegations concerning others was about petty political point scoring." they added.