John McDonnell has claimed that it is “ridiculous” to suggest that he ‘shared a platform’ with expelled Labour members at the Labour Representation Committee’s (LRC) Annual General Meeting on 5th September, as it was an open meeting and he could not control who spoke.
The controversial former Shadow Chancellor made the comments in response to calls to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to discipline him for sharing a platform with former Labour members expelled in connection with antisemitism, in accordance with Sir Keir’s leadership pledge.
In particular, the meeting was attended by the notorious antisemite Jackie Walker, as well as expelled member Tony Greenstein.
Mr McDonnell reportedly said in response to the accusations: “Don’t be ridiculous. Speaking to an open Zoom meeting which is not hosted by me or whose audience is not selected by me or even monitored by me, could not in any rational judgement be construed as providing a platform, support or campaigning for individuals who may or may not be attending.”
However, Mr McDonnell, who is the president of the LRC, omitted to note that Ms Walker is a board member of the LRC. Not only was it likely, therefore, that she might speak alongside him, but in any event given her history of unashamed racism toward Jews the fact that the LRC, and by reasonable extension its President, John McDonnell, have continued to stand by her is itself abominable.
Mr McDonnell has yet to be held to account for his involvement in the LRC, a pro-Corbyn pressure group with a long history of belittling claims of antisemitism and publishing extremely disturbing articles. The LRC also supported Cllr Jo Bird, infamous for her “Jew process” comments, for a seat on the Labour Party’s ruling National Executive Committee. Cllr Bird was also present at the LRC’s AGM.
A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “John McDonnell claims that it is ‘ridiculous’ to suggest that he has ‘shared a platform’ with those who happened to speak at the Labour Representation Committee’s AGM. But he studiously avoids addressing why he continues to serve as the President of that controversial group at all, particularly while notorious antisemite and expelled Labour member Jackie Walker is one of its officers. Who does he think he’s fooling?”
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.