A Conservative British minister, Michael Gove, wound up in hot water this week after he shared an anti-Semitic tweet from an alleged member of the Labour Party-backed Momentum group and urged Jeremy Corbyn along with his top supporters to condemn the post. However, as was later revealed, the person did not belong to either of the organisations, prompting representatives of the Labour Party and Momentum group to call on Gove to publicly apologise for the blunder.
This is from a Corbyn supporter and Momentum member - I hope I can see condemnation of this grotesque anti-semitism from @jeremycorbyn , @ParkerCiccone , @AyoCaesar and @mattzarb https://t.co/xcYdvwpGl9— Michael Gove (@michaelgove) November 3, 2019
The row began when a man called Joe Wood, in a now hidden tweet, replied to Holocaust Education Trust Chief Executive Karen Pollock's post with a comment that read “we can’t trust Jews”. The tweet was screenshotted by Pollock and later shared by Gove, who condemned the alleged Labour supporter’s remark.
I posted this during the #Marr show https://t.co/xacewXLXpI— Karen Pollock (@KarenPollock100) November 3, 2019
As well as receiving a tirade of responses about ‘smears’, the most telling was the post below.
Acc to a Labour activist with the usual hashtag, “we can’t trust Jews” pic.twitter.com/Vft9NCfJhv
However, both Labour and Momentum later insisted that Joe Woods, who claimed to belong to both on his Twitter account, was not a member of either of the two, slamming Gove for failing to check facts and trying to “smear” Labour politicians by association.
Joe Woods is not a Momentum member, but obviously you didn't bother to check with us first. This is a deliberate attempt to smear by association. Disgraceful behaviour from a Cabinet Minister.— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) November 3, 2019
Momentum’s National Coordinator and former Corbyn aide Laura Parker condemned the user’s “abhorrent” comment, but also criticised Gove for playing up controversy, as quoted by The Independent.
“We condemn the clearly antisemitic content of the tweet falsely attributed to a Momentum member”, Momentum’s representative said. “Ordinarily I would be shocked by such behaviour, but there seems to be no limit to how low this government is willing to go. Gove should retract his comments and apologise”.
The controversy comes amid preparations for the UK snap general election, currently set for 12 December, where both the Conservatives and Labour will face each other in a heated competition – the results of which many observers believe will be the most unpredictable in modern British history.
Michael Gove, who is responsible for leading the Boris Johnson government’s preparations for Brexit, has not publicly commented on the incident.