The Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, has audaciously claimed that on antisemitism the Labour Party will “come out of this I think as an example of how you do address these issues within a political party and I think other political parties need to learn from that.”
Mr McDonnell made the extraordinary remark in an LBC interview. Host Iain Dale also asked Mr McDonnell why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn does not sue those who call him an antisemite, since “I can’t think of many worse insults” and “if you know you’re not antisemitic why wouldn’t you take action?” Mr McDonnell responded that Mr Corbyn is “not the sort of person who resorts to courts” and that “courts are not the sort of place for that sort of action.”
The interview also explored numerous other areas of Labour’s antisemitic terrain, including the case of disgraced MP Chris Williamson, who is best known for baiting Jews by dismissing allegations of antisemitism as “proxy wars and bulls***” whilst supporting Labour activists like Marc Wadsworth and Jackie Walker who were expelled from the Party over their comments. He has been suspended by Labour three times (although the second suspension was overturned by the High Court). He is currently on suspension while his case is reviewed yet again by the Party.
Asked by Mr Dale whether he wants Mr Williamson to be a candidate in the coming general election, Mr McDonnelll said that Mr Williamson’s case is currently under consideration and therefore he would not wish to say anything that might prejudice the case. To this Mr Dale responded: “the right answer to that question was ‘no’,” noting that this is another example of the Labour Party equivocating on a case related to the matter of antisemitism.
Indeed much of Mr McDonnell’s focus in this interview, as in other interviews, has been on process, saying of Dame Louise Ellman’s resignation from the Labour Party that “she’s wrong” to have quit because “everything she’s asked us to do we’re doing”.
Indeed Mr McDonnell also deployed the transparent rhetorical device of ‘whataboutettery’ when he tried to steer attention away from Mr Corbyn’s leadership by observing that there is antisemitism in all political parties and that it featured too in the Labour Party under Tony Blair. Mr Dale retorted that, regardless, Jews are only leaving the Labour Party, and he also pointed out that many Jews are even thinking of leaving the country if Labour comes to power, suggesting that this was “embarrassing”. Mr McDonnell described it instead as “saddening” and insisted that Jews have “no grounds” to take such action.
On 28th May, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
Over 57,000 people have now signed our petition denouncing Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite and declaring him “unfit to hold any public office.”