JVL Introduction

We’re pleased to announce that Jo Bird’s suspension has been lifted. The Liverpool Echo reports


Wirral councillor Jo Bird. Photo: Liverpool Echo

Labour councillor who made ‘Jew process’ joke has suspension lifted

Cllr Jo Bird said last week she had received horrific abuse since the controversial recording was revealed

Local Democracy Reporter, Liverpool Echo
15 March 2019


The Labour councillor suspended by her party after making a joke about “Jew process” has had her suspension lifted, it’s understood.

Cllr Jo Bird, who is Jewish, was suspended by her party after a leaked recording of a speech she made last year emerged, in which she was also heard adapting a famous poem about the Holocaust.

Cllr Bird represents the Bromborough ward on Wirral Council , and spoke last week about shocking abuse she suffered in the wake of the recording being released.

In a speech at a council meeting on March 4, she said she had received messages saying “it’s time for Jews to leave the country”, and others accusing her of being a “rotten bigot, racist, mendacious and manipulative”, also being called a “Nazi”.

Her speech came despite opposition from the local Conservative group, who moved a motion calling for her not to be allowed to speak because of the suspension. After their motion was voted down, all members of the Tory group except the Mayor sensationally got up and walked out of the chamber.

The ECHO now understands Cllr Bird’s suspension from the Labour Party has been lifted, although the reasons and exact details remain unclear.

Cllr Bird was suspended by her party after a recording was leaked to the Jewish Chronicle of her saying it was unfair to suspend Marc Wadsworth last year after a confrontation with Labour MP Ruth Smeeth in 2016. She added that “due process” should be known as “Jew process”.

In the recording, those present at the meeting in Manchester last year are heard laughing and clapping at both her statement, and another from suspended MP Chris Williamson. An article she wrote for the Jewish Voice for Labour website struck a similar tone on the issue.

Cllr Bird also came under fire for another part of the recording released by the Jewish Chronicle, in which she adapted the famous ‘First they came…’ poem by German theologian and Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller.

She was heard saying: “They came for the anti-zionists, and I stood up because I was not a target, I stood up in solidarity. And then they came for the socialists but they couldn’t get us because we were having a party, the Labour Party.”

The comments were widely condemned, including by Countdown star Rachel Riley, and she was understood to be suspended pending investigation.

Following the suspension being announced, a Labour spokeswoman said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms. All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

It is now understood that the suspension has been lifted.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints of antisemitism extremely seriously and we are committed to challenging and campaigning against it in all its forms. All complaints about antisemitism are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”

Addressing last week’s budget council meeting , Cllr Bird said: “My great grandparents were refugees from ethnic cleansing and fascism in Europe. My grandfather never knew his cousins because they perished in the holocaust.

“I know from lived experience what racism against Jewish people looks like. It’s vile.

“Just today I received antisemitic hate emails.

“I was told that ‘it’s time for Jews to leave the country’, that I’m lowlife, ‘go and crawl under your rock’, and that I’m a Nazi.”

She said political “moves to the far right” give her “nightmares”, and mean “hostile environments”.

Cllr Bird has been contacted for comment on the latest developments.