Labour Pudsey candidate accused of comparing celebrating Tony Blair's death to celebrating that of Hitler
A Yorkshire Labour candidate has been accused of comparing celebrating the death of Tony Blair to celebrating the death of Adolf Hitler in a radio interview.
Jane Aitchison is bidding to replace Tory Stuart Andrew in Pudsey, where Mr Andrew had just a 331 majority as MP.
The Labour Party and Ms Aitchison both "utterly refute" she made the comparison, and Ms Aitchison apologised for any offence caused.
Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live this morning, alongside Mr Andrew and Liberal Democrat candidate Ian Downling, Ms Aitchison was questioned whether a fellow Labour hopeful in Coventry South, Zarah Sultana, should be allowed to stand after social media posts were unearthed where she bragged she would “celebrate” the deaths of Tony Blair and Benjamin Nentanayu.
Host Emma Barnett referenced Ms Aitchison’s own previous gaffes on social media after in April last year it was uncovered she had called the Royal Family “scroungers” and suggested Waitrose shoppers are “scum”.
She later apologised for the posts.
However today Ms Aitchison said: “People say things that are very, very passionate, and they say things that are wrong, but I don't think that what she's saying there is necessarily worse than looking down on the people of Grenfell who died in a fire which is what we've experienced.”
Ms Aitchison admitted the comments were “not good” but when pushed on whether Ms Sultana should be allowed to stand Ms Aitchison remained silent for 12 seconds before answering: “I think I'd like to talk to her and see what she was really trying to say and if she is apologising, if she's apologising then, I think that would be okay.
“People do celebrate death sometimes. It's not good. Is it? Is it really good to celebrate that? It's not. But people do sometimes because they feel strongly about whatever that person represented.”
Asked whether she was defending celebrating the death of former Prime Minister Mr Blair, Ms Aitchison said: “No, I'm not, what I'm saying is that people for instance, they celebrated the death of Hitler.”
She later said: "I was challenged during a live radio interview about a case I knew nothing about. I apologise for causing offence, but I said in the interview that I did not condone anyone celebrating the death of anyone, and I do not."
Andrew Percy, Tory MP is Brigg and Goole and Vice Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Semitism, said: "Comparing Israeli leaders with Adolf Hitler, a man responsible for the death of six million Jews, is not only deeply upsetting to the Jewish community but also sick.
“To have a parliamentary candidate defend these comments just shows how rampant antisemitism is still alive and well in Corbyn’s Labour Party."