A former neo-Nazi who once daubed buildings with swastikas has been elected as a local councillor in Britain, according to a report in The Jewish Chronicle.
Margaret Burke won a seat on Milton Keynes Council earlier this month, after demonstrating her remorse to local Labour Party officials and describing her earlier activities as those of a “brainwashed idiot,” the report said.
During the 1980s, Burke ran a pro-Hitler organization with her husband, The Jewish Chronicle noted. As part of that organization, she wore Nazi-style uniforms and organized racist leafleting. After the couple divorced, she joined the Animal Liberation Front and was jailed for vandalizing a butcher’s shop.
Burke reportedly told the Milton Keynes Citizen that she regretted her actions and had dedicated herself to working for the community to make amends.
Milton Keynes Labour leader Kevin Wilson said the candidate selection panel had been aware of Burke’s past and had “questioned her at length”, adding that her post-Nazi behavior had been “exemplary” and it would have been “wholly wrong to deny her the possibility of being a candidate.”
The Milton Keynes Citizen reported that ruling Tories have slammed Labour’s ‘hypocrisy’ for selecting Burke.
According to the report, backed by the two city MPs, Tories have written to national Labour party chairman Harriet Harman demanding an immediate review of the councillor’s selection.
City Conservatives, however, insisted they are not calling for Burke’s resignation. According to Tory leader Andrew Geary, “We are not blaming her. We are blaming the Labour party.”
“Given their strong stance against any association with Nazism and terrorist activities, I seriously question their judgment in their choice of candidate,” Geary told the Milton Keynes Citizen. He noted that several months ago Tory MP Aiden Burley was sacked from his transport aide’s job after he attended a fancy dress party where another guest was dressed as a Nazi.
“Labour went berserk just because he was photographed next to somebody dressed as a pretend Nazi,” said Geary. “For them to then select a councillor who was once a Nazi is just downright hypocritical.”
Geary told the Milton Keynes Citizen he believes Labour, who insists Burke will be an “excellent councillor”, should consider withdrawing its whip and allow her to stand as an Independent if she wishes.
Elsewhere in Britain, Manchester’s Jewish community reacted in anger last week to a decision by the National Health Service (NHS) to cancel a planned address by an Israeli professor at an NHS Trust event in the city.
Professor Moty Cristal, an Israeliexpert on negotiating skills and crisis management, had been invited to lead a workshop in Manchester next week entitled, ‘The Role of Negotiation in Dealing With Conflict.’
Prior to the workshop, however, he received an email informing him that the workshop had been cancelled due to pressure exerted by the trade union UNISON. The e-mail claimed that the session was cancelled "on the grounds that it is UNISON’s policy and also that of the Trades Union Congress to support the Palestinian people".
The decision to cancel Cristal’s appearance followed a decision by the UK's fifth biggest food retailer, the Co-operative Group, to end trade with Israeli companies.
The food retailer recently announced it would no longer be "engaging with any supplier of produce known to be sourcing from the Israeli settlements." That decision affects PA Arabs who work for Israelis, as they may lose jobs as a result.