Over the years I’ve had a few online spats with a former Labour councillor from Rossendale, one Pam Bromley. The name may be familiar, because in 2020 this previously obscure local politician achieved national prominence with the publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into antisemitism in the Labour Party. Along with the rather better known Ken Livingstone, Bromley was found by the EHRC to have engaged in unlawful harassment of Labour’s Jewish members while acting as an agent of the party. She and Ken are currently pursuing a judicial review of this absurd and politically biased judgment.
I recently got involved in a Facebook argument with one of Bromley’s supporters, who quoted her criticising Jeremy Corbyn for having failed to take a sufficiently uncompromising stand in opposition to the Labour antisemitism witch-hunt. I wasn’t about to take lectures on how to combat the witch-hunt from someone whose irresponsible behaviour had in my opinion provided ammunition for those conducting it, so I asked irritably: “Would that be the Pam Bromley who was rightly suspended from the party for posting Rothschild conspiracy articles? And who blamed the campaign against Corbyn on ‘the Jewish lobby’?”
It was presumably this exchange that prompted Bromley to post a lengthy statement (more like an exercise in stream of consciousness writing) on her Facebook page. She complained that “some people on the left are STILL taking highly selective lists of my posts, all completely out of context, (as compiled by those who are trying to build me a profile as an anti-Semite), and quoting them verbatim. This is a particular problem with any concerning the Rothschilds.”
She did concede that she had made an early mistake in relation to the Rothschilds: “there was one particular anti-semitic meme in circulation by some lefts who DID NOT UNDERSTAND IT. I was one”. When she shared that meme she had never heard of the Rothschilds, didn’t even know they were Jewish, had no idea they were the subject of an antisemitic trope, and thought the meme was just anti-capitalist. However, following a discussion with a Jewish socialist friend, Bromley “became aware of the sensitivities associated with the trope, after which I was able to recognise it for what it was and thereafter, as I recall, I made no further mention of the Rothschilds”.
It’s good that Bromley has recognised that posting Rothschild conspiracy crap is unacceptable, even if that admission and (sort of) apology are rather late in coming, at least as far as her public statements are concerned. But her claim that her promotion of Rothschild conspiracism involved the one-off sharing of an offensive meme, which she did out of innocent ignorance, and that she corrected this error as soon as she was told about it, is at variance with the evidence. There wasn’t just the one post about the Rothschilds, but at least three. Furthermore, for years she refused to admit she’d done anything wrong.
No screenshots are available of Bromley’s first anti-Rothschild post featuring the meme that she now accepts was antisemitic. But Tom Conwell has identified Bromley as the Labour councillor referred to in the EHRC report who “shared an image of Jewish banker, Jacob Rothschild, on their Facebook page, along with a caption claiming that the Rothschild family and other institutions, including the City of London and the Vatican, ‘own our news, our media, our oil and even our governments’.” Conwell writes: “From the entries that are attributed to Pam Bromley, I think we can be sure that she was that unnamed councillor, and that it was this 2016 Facebook post which was the subject of the initial complaint.” So far as I’m aware, Bromley hasn’t disputed that attribution.
If the councillor mentioned in the EHRC report was indeed Bromley, then this would be the Rothschild meme she is said to have shared. You can see why there might have been objections to it, can’t you?
Whatever criticisms Bromley faced over her original post, though, they did not in fact prevent her from continuing to promote nonsense about the Rothschilds. In 2017 she shared an antisemitic article by a deluded crank named Baxter Dmitry (“World War 3: Trump begins paying his penance to the Rothschilds”) from the rightwing conspiracist site YourNewsWire, accompanied by the comment: “Some time back I got hammered for posting an anti-Rothschild meme. However here they are again.” This is what I wrote about Dmitry’s piece in 2018:
“Not only is the YourNewsWire article completely deranged, but it’s also blatantly antisemitic, referencing classic Rothschild conspiracy themes. (‘The Rothschilds were up to their old tricks — funding both sides of the war in order to fuel chaos, derive maximum profit, and ensure they retain ultimate influence when the new order emerges.’) Dmitry says he takes it for granted that ‘everybody knows’ about Hillary Clinton’s links to these evil banksters, before continuing: ‘But what is less well known is that Donald Trump is also a Rothschild creation and actor, playing a part in the great sham that is the New World Order’s fake politics.’ The Rothschilds are not the only sinister New World Order influence on the Trump administration identified by Dmitry. He also finds it highly significant that treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin previously worked for Goldman Sachs and George Soros. Both of whom, like Mnuchin himself, just happen to be Jewish.”
Evidently Bromley came in for some stick over the YourNewsWire post as well, because the next day she posted a link to the website of Rothschild & Co with the comment: “Right I am fed up of this shush don’t mention the Rothschilds stuff.”
Whether Bromley now accepts that the Baxter Dmitry piece is antisemitic is unclear. She says that after deleting the original Rothschild meme she “went on to argue that as a Marxist I view ALL wealthy dynastic families throughout history in the same way, irrespective of religion, creed and so forth; this is the OPPOSITE of anti-semitism”. That is the argument she makes in the above screenshots, and it was the defence she used against those of us who pointed out the antisemitic character of the YourNewsWire article.
In a statement to The Times shortly before her suspension from the Labour Party in 2018 Bromley denied that there was anything problematic about sharing such material. She insisted: “I have not said anything antisemitic on Facebook and I stand by what I said.” She presented herself as the victim of a campaign to attack supporters of the Palestinian cause, destabilise the Labour Party and damage her credibility as an elected councillor. She continued: “Whoever is behind the Jewish lobby is terrified of the prospect of a Corbyn led Labour government.” This was in a statement intended to refute the accusation that she’d done anything antisemitic!
Bromley then turned up in the Labour Against the Witchhunt — UNOFFICIAL Facebook group claiming she had been subjected to false accusations of antisemitism. When I tried to explain to her that Rothschild conspiracy theories are antisemitic, and suggested that the best response to the party’s disciplinary case against her would be to admit she’d made a mistake and apologise, she got angry, said she had joined the group expecting support not criticism, and blocked me.
Bromley continued for some time to claim there was nothing antisemitic about the Rothschild stuff she’d posted, before shifting her position to denying she was the person responsible for posting it. (As I recall, her argument was that her Facebook account had been hacked, or alternatively that the screenshots had been photoshopped.) Here is how she reacted to my 2018 article, quoted above, where I had criticised her promotion of the antisemitic YourNewsWire piece.
Bromley ordered me to “Get in touch or I will take it further”, which I understood to be a threat of legal action if I failed to accede to her demands. Although no such action transpired, her obvious purpose was to intimidate me into withdrawing my criticisms. In her recent statement Bromley says the aim of her case against the EHRC is to “establish the right to freedom of speech”. But that’s not a right she is quite so keen on when it’s exercised by her political opponents.
As I said at the start of this article, the EHRC’s finding that Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley engaged in unlawful harassment of Jewish members of the Labour Party, and did so in their capacity as agents of the party, was a ridiculous judgment by an organisation that has long abandoned any pretence of political neutrality. (Their actions didn’t constitute harassment and they weren’t agents.) I hope the judicial review challenge succeeds. Frankly, though, I think Ken’s case would be a lot stronger if he wasn’t lumbered with Bromley as co-plaintiff.