Keswick councillor Tony Lywood is being investigated by the Labour Party after becoming embroiled in a row over anti-Semitism.
Mr Lywood, who was Labour candidate in Keswick at last year’s General Election, is in hot water over comments he made on social media.
The 64-year-old Labour stalwart was reported to his party chiefs after claiming that anti-Semitic allegations were being used against socialists.
His comments were made via a WhatsApp text message which was picked up by an individual and passed on to the Labour Party.
Responding to a call from the Keswick Reminder, a spokesman for Labour said: “The Labour Party takes all complaints extremely seriously and they are fully investigated in line with our rules and procedures and any appropriate disciplinary action is taken.”
However, Labour’s North East and Cumbria office in Newcastle would not offer any further comment on what it said were ongoing investigations.
Mr Lywood has been a member of the Labour Party for 45 years and represents Keswick on Cumbria County Council.
He is also a Keswick town councillor and member of the Lake District National Park Authority.
He told the Keswick Reminder he could not talk about the comments, only the generalities surrounding them, saying: “I do not accept that our party is ingrained with anti-Semitism, now or ever.
“The Labour Party is 500,000-plus people and to say that there are no racists in our party would be ridiculous.
“However, I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1975 and never witnessed a single incident of anti-Semitism – and I hope I never do.
“My point is that the scale of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party has been overblown and overstated by our political enemies as if to paint us as racists.
“I support our new leader Sir Keir Starmer but he must be very careful to unify our party, not divide it.
“Things have got to such a fever pitch in our party that even discussion of the extent of anti-Semitism is cause for sanction and investigation.
“I will not stay silent on this issue even if I am suspended or expelled from the Labour Party I love.”
Last December, Mr Lywood stood in the Copeland parliamentary constituency, which includes Keswick where he lives. M
ore than 17,000 people voted for him but he lost out to Conservative Trudy Harrison, who polled 22,856 votes.
During a hustings attended by around 200 people the previous month at St John’s Church in Keswick, he had been asked a question from the floor about anti-Semitism.
His response drew the loudest cheer of the evening in which he said nothing would stop him supporting Palestine.
Palestine remains embroiled in a bitter and long-running conflict with Israel, which is the nation state of the Jewish people.
The Labour Party has been accused of anti-Semitism, which is hostility to, prejudice or discrimination against Jews.
Cllr Lywood added: “I am in no way minimising the importance of eradicating anti-Semitism from our party and accept the EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) report.
“Our governance and disciplinary procedures were terrible and the report is quite correct to highlight that. One anti-Semite in our party is too many and we should apologise to anyone who has been subject to racist slurs.
“In Keswick in my role as a Labour councillor I work with high Tories, low Tories, Liberals, lefties, Greens and independents, all with differing opinions, my point being that we get the very best of us when we work together to achieve practical results in openness and honesty.”