SNP election candidate is forced to apologise after comparing supporters of Israel to fascists in ‘genocide’ comments
- Jewish leaders and anti-Semitism campaigners urged SNP to look into remarks
- Glasgow candidate Suzanne McLaughlin is accused of making abusive posts
- She said: ‘Lest anyone be in any doubt. Zionism is akin to fascism. #genocide’
- SNP said she has apologised for ‘choice of words’ and denies anti-Semitism
An SNP election candidate has been forced to apologise for comments comparing supporters of a Jewish state to fascists.
Jewish leaders and anti-Semitism campaigners last night urged the SNP to launch an investigation into ‘unacceptable’ comments by Glasgow candidate Suzanne McLaughlin.
Among a series of foul-mouthed and abusive social media posts, Mrs McLaughlin, a prominent pro-independence campaigner, said: ‘Lest anyone be in any doubt. Zionism is akin to fascism. #genocide’.
In another post on the same day, she said that ‘Israel is a terrorist state.’
The SNP last night said Mrs McLaughlin had apologised for her ‘choice of words’ but denied that they could be construed as anti-Semitic.
It is the latest in a series of controversial comments to have emerged from SNP candidates in recent weeks, after two others were criticised for trivialising the Holocaust.
Jewish leaders and anti-Semitism campaigners last night urged the SNP to launch an investigation into ‘unacceptable’ comments by Glasgow candidate Suzanne McLaughlin (seen with Nicola Sturgeon)
It is also the second election in a row where one of the SNP’s candidates has become caught up in an anti-Semitism row, after Neale Hanvey was suspended from the party during the 2019 general election campaign.
A spokesman for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: ‘This is the third report of deeply concerning comments from an SNP candidate in as many weeks.
‘The SNP has adopted the international definition of anti-Semitism, which clearly states that it is anti-Semitic to deny the Jewish people to their right to self-determination or compare Israelis to Nazis.
‘Nobody should be making such comments, let alone a candidate in an election. Suzanne McLaughin must now face party discipline.’
Concerns were also raised about the SNP’s vetting procedures.
The tweets were still on Mrs McLaughlin’s Twitter page yesterday until the Mail contacted the party and they were deleted.
A spokesman for the Glasgow Jewish Representative Council said: ‘This is unacceptable language for a parliamentary candidate to use.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (right) with SNP candidates Suzanne McLaughlin (left) and Sandra White during a campaign visit to the University Cafe in Glasgow
‘We expect all political parties to have in place robust vetting procedures for their candidates. The SNP need to investigate the matter fully and take appropriate action.’
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism includes ‘comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’.
It also says anti-Semitism can be ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour’.
Mrs McLaughlin is on the national committee for Women for Independence and is an ex-publican who rebranded her Glasgow pub the Yesbar before the 2014 referendum.
She has a history of controversial posts on social media. In January 2020, she accused Labour’s Lisa Nandy of having ‘despicable fascist sympathies’ because she said the UK should learn from Quebec and Catalonia, where ‘narrow divisive nationalism’ has been defeated by a ‘social justice agenda’.
In July 2019, she also asked her Twitter followers: ‘Why why why are there gay Tories? Or poor Tories? Why?? I don’t get it.’
Mrs McLaughlin, a prominent pro-independence campaigner, said: ‘Lest anyone be in any doubt. Zionism is akin to fascism. #genocide’
Annie Wells, Scottish Conservative lead candidate for Glasgow, said: ‘It is not the first time in this election where an SNP candidate has been found to have made utterly crass remarks and the party appears to have a problem.
‘We’ve become used to vile personal abuse from a significant, noisy and cowardly faction of intolerant Scottish Nationalists.
‘It is the responsibility of Nicola Sturgeon to act quickly and decisively in this case. I echo the Jewish representative organisation’s call for an immediate investigation to establish whether this candidate is considered suitable by the SNP.’
Recently, Colm Merrick, SNP candidate for Eastwood, was accused of trivialising the Holocaust when he suggested Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was the ‘potential source of its inspiration’ for Labour’s 2015 general election campaign.
Uddingston and Bellshill candidate Stephanie Callaghan likened a Tory block on an independence referendum to Hitler and the Holocaust.
Mrs McLaughlin declined to comment on the posts and referred inquiries to the SNP’s press office.
An SNP spokesman said: ‘Suzanne McLaughlin apologises for her choice of words in these six-year-old tweets, which she has now deleted.
‘She remains a strong advocate for Palestinian rights, and at no point in her comments did she suggest that Israel has no right to self-determination.
‘The SNP supports a two-state solution, as endorsed in the Jewish Manifesto for Scotland.’