The Liberal Democrats of Britain have ousted Geeta Sidhu-Robb as one of their candidates for mayor of London and suspended her from the party after a video of her making anti-Semitic remarks during the 1997 general election was released.
The lawyer and businesswoman, who has roots in Punjab, was the Conservative candidate in Blackburn, Lancashire in the 1997 election. Her opponent was senior Labor leader Jack Straw.
Footage from that election campaign, leaked from PoliticsHome website, shows Sidhu-Robb saying she planned to inform voters about Straw’s faith, adding, “how will a Muslim vote for someone who is Jewish? ”
She is then seen driving a car in Blackburn, calling out to voters on a loudspeaker in Urdu.
“Do not vote for a Jew, Jack Straw is a Jew,” she is seen saying about her rival candidate, who held various cabinet posts in governments Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, including as foreign secretary.
Straw is a Christian, but has some Jewish ancestry. The Blackburn constituency has a large Muslim minority, about 25% of the population.
The video prompted an investigation by the Liberal Democrats, the UK’s third largest party after Labor and the Conservatives. A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “Geeta Sidhu-Robb has been suspended by the Liberal Democrats and will not be on the ballot to be the Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London.”
Sidhu-Robb apologized after the footage appeared. “I am very ashamed of the ignorant and abusive language I used on one occasion in the 1997 General Election campaign. As the footage shows, I immediately regretted my horrific behavior, which I continue to do,” she wrote in Twitter.
“These words are not entirely in line with my views and values, and although there are no excuses for my actions, there is a context; i.e., that I was under great strain and retaliated against the racial abuse I was receiving in Blackburn ‘as to how.’
“Two mistakes never make a right. I made a mistake and take responsibility for my disgusting actions 23 years ago, they were never repeated. “I urge you to judge me for who I am today, an activist committed to eradicating inequality and discrimination in all its forms,” she added.
London mayoral elections were due in May but have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sidhu-Robb was nominated for mayor along with Liberal Democrat councilor Luisa Porri, with the race running until October 13. The party, which formed a coalition government with the Conservatives under David Cameron from 2010 to 2015, is finalizing its candidate after Siobhan Benita, who would run against Mayor Sadiq Khan, recently withdrew.
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