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Labour Conference ’19 Launch event for book on Labour and anti-Semitism cancelled in disputed circumstances

A BOOK about anti-semitism and the Labour Party had its launch event cancelled at short notice in disputed circumstances last night.

Media studies book Bad News for Labour: Antisemitism, the Party and Public Belief was timed for release yesterday in tandem with the party’s annual conference in Brighton.

It is written by five respected scholars — Greg Philo, Mike Berry, Justin Schlosberg, Antony Lerman and David Miller — who analysed media coverage of the anti-semitism row.

Their publisher, Pluto Press, had arranged for the Waterstones store in Brighton to host the launch event, but the retailer pulled out at short notice, citing “unforeseen circumstances.”

The authors and their publisher believe Waterstones buckled after critics of the book sent a “barrage of abusive emails” and tweets urging the chain store to cancel the event.

But Waterstones told the Morning Star it had not been threatened or harassed, despite evidence on social media to the contrary.

The book giant claimed it had merely cancelled the event because of “our own lack of organisation, and that of the publisher.”

The company said it would “gladly” arrange future events for the book, provided they are organised professionally.

Pluto Press told the Star it was “surprised and disappointed” that Waterstones had pulled out. 

Pluto’s managing director Veruschka Selbach said: “This book is an academic study into one of the most contentious issues facing our society today. 

“It is worrying that abuse and intimidation were used to close down free and open discussion of anti-semitism in the Labour party. 

“Fortunately, the Rialto Theatre nearby was able to help out, and through some exceptional organising, the event went ahead in a packed venue.”

Ms Selbach added: “We have run events at various Waterstones in Pluto’s 50-year history.

“This is the first time they have cancelled an event, saying we were unprofessional.

“If that is the real reason, then we welcome the opportunity to reschedule the event.” 

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