Labour criticised for 'anti-Semitic' Howard poster

James Burleigh
Monday 31 January 2005 01:00
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A proposed Labour Party poster depicting the Tory leader Michael Howard in a pose resembling Shakespeare's Shylock has prompted fresh claims of anti-Semitism.

A proposed Labour Party poster depicting the Tory leader Michael Howard in a pose resembling Shakespeare's Shylock has prompted fresh claims of anti-Semitism.

Jewish groups reacted angrily last week to images of Mr Howard, the son of Jewish immigrants, and his shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin, who also has a Jewish background, pasted onto the bodies of flying pigs. The slogan states: "The Day Tory Sums Add Up". The Jewish religion views pigs as unclean.

The latest image shows Mr Howard swinging a pocket watch on a chain, which critics say echoes the Jewish moneylender in The Merchant of Venice. Others have compared it with the Oliver Twist character, Fagin.

Ned Temko, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said yesterday the campaign "clearly draws on an old anti-Jewish stereotype".

Mr Temko said: "The most charitable interpretation is these were an inadvertent mix of insensitivity and cultural illiteracy. A less charitable conclusion is Labour, or at least some within it, sees election-campaign advantages in subliminally reminding voters Mr Howard is Jewish. The least charitable: it is part of a deliberate pattern of frankly anti-Semitic invective."

The images were designed by the TBWA agency, whose boss Trevor Beattie was behind the FCUK campaign for French Connection.

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