Independent Councillor James Giles Faces Backlash for Coercive Tactics in a Controversial Letter on the Israel-Hamas Conflict
In a bold and contentious move, independent Kingston councillor James Giles, supported by Conservative Cllr Jamal Chohan, has sparked widespread controversy and police attention with a letter sent to over 19,000 colleagues across England and Wales. This letter, demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, has been widely criticised for its “threatening” tone and the promise to publicly list those who refuse to sign.
The letter, which some have branded as an act of intimidation, insists on a ceasefire and urges for a two-state solution, while acknowledging the unacceptability of anti-Semitism. However, it controversially accuses Israel of shirking its international legal responsibilities and inflaming ongoing tensions.
The contentious part of the letter, which Giles admits was “clumsily worded,” suggests a list would be published of those who were invited to sign but chose not to, ostensibly for “accountability.” This aspect, in particular, has drawn fierce backlash from various quarters, with some councillors refusing to sign and challenging the letter’s approach.
Cllr Giles, in defense of the letter, emphasized the “devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza,” hoping to inspire more MPs to call for a ceasefire. Meanwhile, Cllr Chohan distanced himself from the perceived threats in the email but stood by the call for a ceasefire.
The Local Government Association (LGA) has not endorsed the letter’s delivery method and confirmed no involvement in sharing email contacts. This situation has attracted the attention of the Metropolitan Police, the Information Commissioner’s Office, and The Royal Borough of Kingston’s Monitoring Officer.
Adding to the controversy, a Conservative HQ source revealed that Cllr Chohan is no longer a party member, a claim contradicted by Chohan, who cited his significant contributions to the party. Story Source