A Labour councillor has been suspended by the party for sharing on social media a parody of a Conservative election poster doctored to include an image of a Nazi death camp. Rosemary Healy, who represents the Mapperley ward on Nottingham City Council, insisted she had not spotted what the picture was of when she sent it on to more than 1,500 followers on Twitter and expressed "profound apologies".
But the party confirmed that the council's executive assistant for community protection had been suspended amid closer-than-ever scrutiny of politicians' internet postings in the run-up to May's general elections. First spotted by the Right Of Centre website, the post shared by Healy was an altered version of a Tory poster - the original of which was mocked after it emerged the photo of a country road featured above the slogan "Let's stay on the road to a stronger economy" was of one in Germany, not the UK.
Tasteless and shocking? Oh yes. It's meant to be. Amusing - no. It's deadly serious: pic.twitter.com/93p6ghGPRF— Tom Pride (@ThomasPride) January 6, 2015
It was posted by the @ThomasPride account but replaced the road with a picture of the railway lines leading into the notorious Auschwitz camp where more than a million people - almost all Jews - died during the Second World War.
"The new Tory campaign poster featuring a German road's a bit controversial" the post quipped - adding the slogan "more people on zero hours, more tax cuts for the rich, no more NHS".
Profound apologies for that retweet which was a genuine mistake and would never have been retweeted had I recognised it for what it was.— Cllr Rosemary Healy (@cllrhealy) January 6, 2015
Ms Healy quickly deleted the Tweet and posted: "Profound apologies for that retweet which was a genuine mistake and would never have been retweeted had I recognised it for what it was."
The Conservative group leader on Nottingham City Council, Cllr Georgina Culley, told the website: "This trivialises the horrors of the holocaust and I think Councillor Healy and her party should be ashamed. The city council should also act to distance itself from the perpetuation of these tweets, such remarks are offensive and a public representative should know better."
Twitter reaction was even more scathing. Fergus Mason demanded Healy "resign", while calling her a "disgusting oxygen thief". Alex Finch asked: “What did you think it was - York Railway Museum?" while Thomas Evans suggested that anyone who didn't recognise Auschwitz had "no place in politics".
The user of the Thomas Pride account defended the image against complaints from others on the social media network that it was "deeply ignorant" and "belittles the Holocaust" - insisting it was legitimate satire and that he was of Polish descent.