British Parliament Investigates Candidate Intimidation; Conservative MP Says Life Threatened, Called ‘Dirty Jew’
British Conservative MP Lee Scott told a parliamentary panel at Westminster Hall that he has endured anti-Semitic abuse and death threats since the UK’s 2010 general election, the BBC reported on Thursday.
Scott was speaking at a panel that was investigating intimidation suffered by candidates across the country. In his case, leaflets had also been circulated in his constituency of Ilford North describing Scott, a Jew, as an “enemy of Islam.”
Scott said, “At the 2010 general election, I remember it very clearly, on a Friday, I was walking back to my car when two gentlemen – I use the word very loosely – approached me, called me a dirty Jew, and said they were going to kill me.”
“I thought that was a little extreme. Not voting for me would have sufficed. What I normally do when I’m particularly scared is use humor. I said: ‘I’ll put you down as a ‘possible’. You haven’t decided how you’re voting yet, have you?'”
“They were as shocked by that as I was, and we both ran off in separate directions.”
But later that night, Scott told MPs on the panel that he cried for the first time in 25 years; the last time was at the birth of his child.
He continued: “That was some four years ago, so you’d have thought that it would all have died down. But sadly it hasn’t. I still regularly get emails saying I should be stoned to death, I’m not quite sure why, but nonetheless I get them.”
“Also, after speaking in January at the Holocaust Memorial debate that we had in the chamber, I received a letter calling me a ‘dirty Jew’ and saying again I should be killed for speaking up against people killing Jews,” Scott said.
“I found the whole thing ironic and stupid and I said to the police I didn’t want this taken any further because it would waste valuable time on somebody not worthy of wasting time on,” he said. “But the consequences of what was stirred up at the general election, whether it be in my case because I am Jewish, in somebody else’s case because of their sexuality, or other religions, or the color of their skin, goes on for years afterwards.”
“You can Google my name, and other MPs’ names, and see some of the vile things that are on the net today,” he told the panel.
Parmjit Dhanda, a Sikh and Labour MP for Gloucester, told the panel that a severed pig’s head was placed in his driveway the day after losing the 2010 general election.
Natascha Engel, a German-British Labor MP who chaired the panel, said, “The examples that we heard, some of which we couldn’t publish in our report, were really very extreme, and even though they were few and far between I personally was very shocked at some of the things that happen, and wish they wouldn’t happen and hope that we can move towards making it less likely for them to happen.”
“There were candidates who, without a doubt, were not putting their names forward because of fear for their lives even, in certain areas,” she said. “That was across the board, whether it was religious or ethnic or because of their sexuality or their gender, there were people who we felt would have been very good candidates for elected office at any level who were not putting their names forward.”
“All of us on the committee felt that was absolutely unacceptable,” the MP said.