Oh dear. Whichever bright spark over at Labour HQ decided it would be a good idea to send Rupa Huq on Today to defend Naz Shah will now be regretting it. The Labour MP for Ealing Central appeared to take the Ken Livingstone approach in the interview, opting to play down Shah’s sharing of anti-Semitic posts — which led to her suspension.
Huq started things off by focussing on the perils of social media — rather than the issue of anti-Semitism. Apparently it’s really easy to share a post on Facebook, even an anti-Semitic one:
‘She shared a post on Facebook, it’s easy to click those buttons – like, share – and I guess we have to be very careful what it is we are clicking on — all of us. This was a time when she wasn’t a public figure, it’s a time when she wasn’t a public figure. It’s just really unfortunate. We’re entering a phase where it’s trial by Twitter.’
At which point, Justin Webb asked Huq whether it was really a case of ‘trial by Twitter’. If an adult shares a racially offensive post, surely their suitability as an MP should be called into question? Apparently not, according to Huq. The Labour politician answered by comparing Shah’s anti-Semitic posts to a ‘funny’ tweet she shared about Boris Johnson and a zip-wire over the weekend:
RH: I retweeted a picture at the weekend of Boris Johnson on a zip-wire, next to Obama looking statesman like and the caption was ‘the one on the left is accusing the one on the right of being weird.
JW: You see your retweeting of something about Boris Johnson as being similar to the retweeting of the picture of a map of the USA with the thought that Israel should be relocated there?
RH: Look Justin, I can’t completely hear you
Selective hearing or not, it was probably best for all concerned if the interview ended there. Alas it went on and Huq continued to defend Shah, arguing that Shah did not write anti-Semitic comments — she simply shared them. Mr S suspects Labour ought to come up with a party line fast the next time they send a hapless MP onto the airwaves. That’s if they want to win back any trust on this issue.