John McLellan: Adam McVey ties himself in knots over anti-semitism

For what should have been a straightforward matter, the debate about anti-Semitism at last week's full council took a rather bizarre twist.

Thursday, 10th May 2018, 7:00 am
Council leader Adam McVey said police figures did not support the idea that anti-semitism was rising (Picture: Ian Georgeson)

In trying to change a motion by my colleague Ashley Graczyk, Council leader Adam McVey found himself arguing that a clause condemning the “alarming rise in antisemitism across the UK” should be dropped because official police figures did not support the claim.

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The problem with this approach is that if the only measure of a problem is the number of reports to police then all manner of crimes and misdemeanours would never be tackled.

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Sectarian abuse, for example, was rarely reported in the past because it wasn’t a crime and in many places just accepted. Worse, domestic abuse, sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape have all been historically under-reported and still are.

But Cllr McVey acknowledged that under-reporting of hate crime remains a problem and so appeared to undermine his own argument. Quickly sensing a problem, first Cllr Ian Campbell and then Cllr Lesley McInnes stepped in to rescue their leader and accept the paragraph.

So how did Cllr McVey find himself in knots over something which should have been an uncontroversial condemnation? Could it possibly have been because of unease amongst his Labour coalition partners about the row which has dogged national leader Jeremy Corbyn for weeks? Perish the thought. Apparently it was all down to a lack of dialogue in advance of the debate.