A FORMER Scottish Labour MP who was suspended over alleged anti-Semitism is to become a deputy council group leader just months after returning to the party fold.

Jim Sheridan has been named as the new opposition depute at SNP-run Renfrewshire, despite controversy over his claims of a Jewish-Blairite plot against Jeremy Corbyn.

He will now sit as a Labour representative on the council’s Leadership Board.

He told the Paisley Daily Express: “I was cleared, so what people’s opinions are is entirely up to them. I can’t influence them, nor do I want to influence their opinions.”

Gavin Newlands, the SNP MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire North, which Mr Sheridan previously held, said the promotion showed Labour's "incompetence and misjudgement". 

Mr Sheridan, 66, was an MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire from 2001 to 2015, and became a councillor in 2017.

READ MORE: Former Labour MP Jim Sheridan suspended from party ‘over online Jewish comments’

He was suspended from the party last August after suggesting Jewish members were acting with “Blairite plotters” to foment the anti-Semitism row engulfing Labour.

He wrote on his Facebook page: “For almost all my adult life I have had the utmost respect and empathy for the Jewish community and their historic suffering.

“No longer due to what they and their Blairite plotters are doing to my party and the long suffering people of Britain who need a radical Labour government.”

The Labour MP Ian Austin called it “utterly disgusting”.

Mr Sheridan’s suspension was lifted in January with no further action taken by the party.

Although he apologised to the Jewish community, he also attacked his “misguided” accusers and called the incident an “unfortunate distraction”.

In a statement at the time, he said: “Whilst I am delighted with this decision, I remain of the view that my accusers were misguided and overreacted to what was intended to highlight my personal frustration and criticism of those intent on undermining our leadership in Scotland and the UK.

“I would also like to reiterate my sincere apologies to the Jewish community whose historic struggle I have supported all my political life.”

A month later, Mr Sheridan had to apologise again after he said on Facebook that  SNP Finance Secretary Derek Mackay had “raped” Scottish councils.

READ MORE: Ex-Labour MP criticised after accusing Derek Mackay of 'raping' councils

He said he had used the word to mean “plunder or strip something of resources” and did not regret using it, only to U-turn a few hours later and delete his post.

Mr Sheridan’s promotion on the council follows the exit of Labour group depute Derek Bibby.

Mr Sheridan told the Paisley Daily Express he was “honoured” at his new post.

He said: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s another challenge. I’m hoping to fulfil the role to its expectations. I’m quite honoured that the group voted for me and felt I was capable.”

Labour group leader Eddie Devine said Mr Sheridan had been the unanimous choice of the group’s AGM.

Paul Masteron, the Tory MP for East Renfrewshire, said: "Labour already disgraced itself by allowing Jim Sheridan back into the fold so easily.

“Now it’s gone even further by promoting him to second-in-command.

“Not that anyone needs reminding, but this again goes to show that Labour simply isn’t serious about dealing with anti-Semitism.”

Mr Newlands said: "It seems that as a reward for harbouring hateful views, the Labour party will hand you a promotion.

“Only a few months ago, Jim Sheridan was placed under investigation for making antisemitic comments – using extremely questionable language just weeks after his dubious reinstatement.

“Now they’ve chosen to promote this disgraced politician as the party deputy in Renfrewshire – Labour need to explain themselves.  

“Richard Leonard has failed to take any action on the issue of racism that runs right through his party.

“Let’s not forget that Labour are yet to take any disciplinary action after a Dumfries councillor launched an Islamophobic attack on Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, well over a year ago.”