Labour hopeful removed from Hastings shortlist after ‘antisemitism’ controversy wants to be Walsall MP

A woman who was removed from the shortlist to be Labour candidate for Hastings and Rye after posting controversial comments about Israel on social media is believed to be seeking selection in the target seat of Walsall North.

A woman who was removed from the shortlist to be Labour candidate for Hastings and Rye after posting controversial comments about Israel on social media is believed to be seeking selection in the target seat of Walsall North.

Michelle Harris runs Labour Party Forum, a Facebook group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn which has hosted antisemitic material.

The deadline for supporting nominations for Walsall PCC candidates is today. Harris is understood to be close to securing the backing of Unite the union.

Harris has shared antisemitic material posted by conspiracy theorist David Icke, who once said he was the son of God.

She was removed from the Hastings shortlist retrospectively in January.

The reason for her removal was not made public, but Harris was the subject of complaints from campaigners over tweets and Facebook content she posted about Israel.

In 2014 she Tweeted: “I have often said that the Holocaust victims who died with dignity must be turning in their graves at the horrors done in the name of Judaism. Gaza is a ghetto being shelled.”

In 2016 she accused Israel of “state racism” against Ethiopian Jews.

Harris used social media to defend herself after the controversy, insisting she was in favour of a two-state solution and supported efforts to negotiate a lasting peace in the region. She denied she was antisemitic and hit out at critics who she claimed had trawled through her social media profiles in an attempt to find evidence to the contrary.

Nominations for Walsall North close today. Harris is understood to be canvassing support amongst unions.

Walsall North was one of a handful of Labour seats lost to the Tories at the 2017 general election.  Veteran Labour MP David Winnick was defeated by 2,601 votes.

Long-listed candidates will be interviewed on Sunday 15 April and the winner chosen after hustings on 22 April.

Labour is confident of winning Walsall North back at the next election, along with several other Midlands seats it failed to retain last year.

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