Eastbourne Lib Dem accused of 'holocaust distortion' - party leader admits ‘it was unhelpful, offensive and wrong’

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An Eastbourne Lib Dem councillor has been accused of 'holocaust distortion' after comments she made on Facebook.

The Facebook post from Cllr Helen Burton on June 18 said: “Tories now want to electronically tag migrants. Anyone else reminded of the (yellow star emoji) the Jewish Community was forced to wear by the Nazis?”

It since been condemned by the Holocaust Education Trust (HET) and MP Caroline Ansell.

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Mrs Ansell said: “This is a clear example of a growing tendency of Holocaust Distortion which trivialises the Holocaust. The systematic classification, dehumanising and murder of six million Jews is a crime beyond comparison.

Councillor Helen BurtonCouncillor Helen Burton
Councillor Helen Burton

“It would be better to pursue your criticism of the government using less inflammatory language.

"As well as offensive, Councillor Burton’s comments are also inaccurate and misleading,”

A HET spokesperson said: “The councillor should be reported to their party. This sort of Holocaust comparison is unnecessary, offensive and does constitute distortion.

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“Sadly, we are seeing more and more of this in both politics and wider society.”

Helen Burton has been accused of 'holocaust distortion'Helen Burton has been accused of 'holocaust distortion'
Helen Burton has been accused of 'holocaust distortion'

Local Holocoast survivor Dorit Oliver-Wolff BEM said: "As an active advocate for human rights I am against discrimination of any sort. And I do not agree that humans should be tagged unless they are a danger to others. Be it refugees or UK citizens.”

Helen Burton said she had already contacted Mrs Oliver-Wolff.

Cllr Burton said: “[I] asked her opinion of this policy of tagging some refugees, asking if I was right to publicly fight this policy or whether I was overreacting. Her response was ‘Of course you should fight it and I will join you in fighting this’. In asking this question I specifically used the word ‘some’ and not all refugees.”

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Mrs Ansell said she contacted Cllr Burton and council leader Cllr David Tutt ‘to no avail’.

The Herald put these comments to Lib Dem party leader Ed Davey last week (Friday, July 8) when he visited the town.

He said: “It was unhelpful, offensive and wrong. She has apologised, strongly apologised, and she has agreed to take some specialist training so she is aware that those sorts of comments are wrong and she wants to understand how shocking anti-Semitism is. I think she will learn. She has acted fast and rightly so.”

Mr Davey said if a complaint was made it will be dealt with by an independent complaints process which 'follows the strictest guidelines'.

He said: "We will investigate any complaint that comes in.”

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Cllr Burton has apologised for any offence caused. She said: “My post does not in any way compare where we currently are with the full horror of the Holocaust, but it is a warning that this is how fascism starts.

“I see the government's tagging plans as a direct valid comparison and so do many others, with the same link being made by thousands of people across the country.

“I’d like to reiterate again, my opinions do not minimise or distort the holocaust, they do however speak to my real concern about the current Conservative culture and its direction of travel.