Councillor suspended after saying Starmer follows “commands from Israel”

Dominic Hauschild

A councillor in West Lancashire has been suspended by the party and had the Labour whip removed after tweeting that Keir Starmer “stands for nothing” except a “purge of socialists” and “following commands from Israel”.

A Labour spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures, and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

While the party cannot comment on individual cases for confidentiality and data protection reasons, LabourList understands that Cooper is administratively suspended from Labour pending investigation.

The West Lancashire Labour group said: ”Cllr Ron Cooper has been suspended by the Labour Party pending an investigation and has had the Labour whip removed by West Lancashire Labour group and currently sits as an independent councillor. There will be no further comment made while the investigation is underway.”

Ron Cooper, who represents Tanhouse ward on West Lancashire Borough Council, posted the tweet on Wednesday morning in response to a suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn could be reinstated as leader.

“If Corbyn was Labour leader again then hundreds of thousands of members would rejoin the party,” Cooper wrote. “@Keir_Starmer stands for nothing but #purge of socialists and following commands from Israel”.

A number of Twitter users criticised Cooper’s statement, with one stating: “That’s just antisemitic”. Matt Dent, a Labour councillor from Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, replied to Cooper: “Nice to out yourself as an antisemite”.

Cooper posted on Facebook during Labour conference in September that he “couldn’t bear to watch” the speeches of “Corbyn-haters” Ruth Smeeth and Margaret Hodge, adding that the Jewish Labour Movement “retain a lot of influence”.

Both Hodge, a veteran Labour MP, and Smeeth, who was a Labour MP until she lost her seat in 2019, have been critical of former leader Jeremy Corbyn and have shared their experiences of antisemitic abuse.

Hodge said she received abuse after supporting Corbyn’s suspension from Labour, including comments expressing hope that she “dies soon”. Smeeth was placed under police protection in 2016 after an internet troll said she should be hanged.

A recent poll by the Jewish Labour Movement found that 30% of its members said they had left labour under Corbyn, but nearly 90% believed the party had made positive changes in relation to tackling antisemitism since Starmer became leader.

Ron Cooper was elected as a borough councillor at the 2018 local elections, where he received 72% of votes, beating Independent candidate Aaron Robert Body on 20% and Conservative Alexander Lawrence Blundell on 8%.

Ron Cooper has been contacted for comment.

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