Tory councillor apologises after ‘for the many and not the Jew’ comment

Billy Greening, Conservative councillor for Southwater (photo submitted). SUS-161019-090835001
Billy Greening, Conservative councillor for Southwater (photo submitted). SUS-161019-090835001

A Tory councillor has apologised after a ‘for the many and not the Jew’ jibe directed at Labour supporters in London at the weekend.

Last month Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was criticised for comments he made in 2012 on Facebook in defence of an allegedly anti-Semitic mural.

The MP described being sorry for the pain and hurt caused to the Jewish community by pockets of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party and promised to stamp it out.

Billy Greening, a Conservative councillor for Southwater at Horsham District Council, is alleged to have walked up to Labour activist and author Owen Jones and several others in Clapham on Saturday and said ‘for the many and not the Jew’, a play of words on Labour’s slogan under Mr Corbyn.

On Twitter Ash Sarkar, a senior editor at Novara Media, who was with Mr Jones during the incident, described how a ‘non Jewish person turning anti-Semitism into a cheap punchline is in no way helpful in stamping it out of politics’.

Mr Greening has since written to the three people involved in the incident apologising.

He said: “I approached Owen and said something for which I did not think through (I did not jab him as has been said). What I said was wrong, plain and simple. And I am very sorry for what I said.

“After speaking with Michael for about two to three minutes outside I realised what I said was wrong - there is no other way to put it.

“What I said (I think) was meant to provoke a reaction which (I hoped) would have led to a discussion about the situation in the Labour Party. I can now plainly see that was a ludicrous assumption and attempt to draw a well-known commentator into a debate.

“The comments I have read about myself on Twitter have not been nice. I would like to think I’m a decent young man but this episode in a very short space of time has made me think hard about the person I thought I was.

“Clearly I need time to reflect but most importantly it’s time I grew up and acted properly.

“I would like to extend an apology to you all in person, I know this is something you might not accept, but offering an olive branch is the least I can do.

“I don’t want to make a token apology, but a proper one.

“Plain and simple I made a huge mistake and I want to make it right. Please tell me what I can do, apart from growing up that can help me change as a person but also something in my/your community to help right this wrong of mine.”