Labour’s parliamentary candidate for the Tory seat of Clacton has withdrawn his bid after being accused of antisemitism.
Gideon Bull, who currently serves as a Labour councillor in Haringey, admitted using the term “Shylock” during a private meeting – but said he did know the Shakespearean character was Jewish.
The councillor also said he was not using the term to describe Zena Brabazon – another Labour councillor, and the deputy leader, who is Jewish – but employed it as an analogy.
“I used an analogy when referring to a housing decision being called in by backbenchers. I was not referring to the councillor, who was not part of the call in,” Bull said in a statement.
“When she politely informed me that this saying was offensive, I immediately apologised and explained that I did not know that Shylock was Jewish and I would never have mentioned Shylock if I had known this.
“I grew up in a working class area in Ilford where this was a common saying, but I didn’t know it was offensive. This was a genuine accident and I reiterate my sincere apology for this mistake,” he said. “I’ve decided that right now is not the best time for me to stand as a candidate.
“The most important thing is that we get a Labour MP elected in Clacton. My parents live in Clacton, which includes the most deprived area in the whole country, and I’ve seen first-hand how this community has been devastated by the Conservatives’ cuts.”
The Essex seat elected Conservative candidate Giles Watling in 2017, when he secured a majority of 15,828, but previously returned Douglas Carswell who had defected from the Tories to UKIP.
Natasha Osben stood for Labour in the seat at the last general election. Along with local party vice-chair James Machin, she was not reselected – but either could now be chosen by the party.