Words by Olly DeHerrera, Print Production Editor
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen of North West Leicestershire has been suspended as an MP after a tweet comparing the COVID-19 vaccination program to the Holocaust caused outrage and upset within the party and beyond. Mr Bridgen’s now deleted tweet spoke of the COVID-19 vaccination, declaring “this is the biggest crime against humanity since the Holocaust.”.
Mr Bridgen had previously shown support for the British development of a COVID-19 vaccine and shared that he had received the vaccination. However, recent online activity saw him sharing increasingly sceptical material pertaining to the vaccination. BBC News reporters, Paul Seddon & Rachel Schraer, reported that Mr Bridgen had begun making “increasingly baseless claims including that vaccines were killing many people and that the damage was being covered up.”
Mr Bridgen was on a 5-day suspension for breaching parliamentary rules on declaring financial interests when the tweet was posted, he now faces suspension from the Conservative party and will sit as an Independent whilst the party conducts an investigation. Conservative chief whip Simon Hart said the comments had “crossed a line”, whilst Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described the comment as “utterly unacceptable”. Extensive and continuous scientific research has shown that vaccination is the most effective way of preventing death or serious illness from contracting COVID-19. “As a nation we should be very proud of what has been achieved through the vaccine programme,” Simon Hart added. Andrew Percy, a Conservative MP and the vice chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on antisemitism, asked that Mr Bridgen be told that he cannot stand in his North West Leicestershire seat at the next election, a position he has held since 2010.
The Badger spoke to one Sussex student who encountered graffiti similarly likening COVID-19 Vaccinations to the Holocaust in the bathroom of a popular chain Coffee shop in Brighton. The student, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Badger: “Being Jewish, with family who perished in the Holocaust, I was upset to see these two conspiracies combining”. He continued, “It’s something I’m quite used to, but it is deeply upsetting and frustrating that it won’t go away and only seems to be getting worse with the increased frequency of these conspiracies, especially with the general spread of misinformation online.”
Chief Executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, Karen Pollock CBE, shared in a statement online: “Elderly Holocaust survivors share their darkest memories, day in and day out, In the hope the world will remember the truth about of what the Holocaust was and will speak out against its denigration, misuse and abuse”. Karen Pollock continued in her statement, “for these horrors to be co-opted by anti-vaxxers once again is appalling”.
January 27th will mark 78 years since the liberation of the Nazi Concentration Camp Auschwitz Birkenau and is observed across the world as Holocaust Memorial Day. Parliament is scheduled to exhibit 30 portraits of “people affected by the Holocaust, genocide, or identity-based persecution in honour of Holocaust Remembrance Day”, as part of their yearly observance of the day in association with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust.
At the time of writing, Mr Mridgen has not commented on his suspension or the ongoing investigation into his comments online.
Photo credit: Sky News