The controversial filmmaker, Ken Loach, has suggested that Jeremy Corbyn was subjected to a “torrent of abuse” and that regardless of what he did, the “campaign” of antisemitism accusations was “going to run and run”.
Mr Loach made the remarks in an interview on the BBC in the wake of Labour’s election defeat. Asked how he feels about the election result, Mr Loach said that he feels “anger that Jeremy has had a torrent of abuse — every Labour leader is abused but not to this extent. He’s a man of peace who’s been called a ‘terrorist’. He’s…been arrested against racism and been called a ‘racist’. And these things are lies.”
He added that Mr Corbyn faced a torrent abuse that was “off the scale”, and that, regarding antisemitism, “there was a campaign that was going to run and run”. He conceded that “there will be antisemitism in the Labour Party, as there is in other parties and across society,” but said he would defer to the Jews in the Labour Party who say that antisemitism was being “weaponised”, with particular reference to the antisemitism-denial group and sham Jewish representative organisation, Jewish Voice for Labour.
Mr Loach has a history of inflammatory comments on the subject of antisemitism. He described the BBC’s Panorama investigation into Labour antisemitism as “disgusting because it raised the horror of racism against Jews in the most atrocious propagandistic way, with crude journalism…and it bought the propaganda from people who were intent on destroying Corbyn.” He was also reportedly behind a motion passed by Bath Labour Party branding the Panorama programme a “dishonest hatchet job with potentially undemocratic consequences” and asserting that it “disgraced the name of Panorama and exposed the bias endemic within the BBC.” John Ware, the programme’s reporter, is apparently considering legal action against Mr Loach for his comments.
Mr Loach’s voice has been among the loudest of those who attempt to dismiss Labour’s antisemitism crisis as non-existent and a right-wing smear campaign.
In 2017, Mr Loach caused outrage when, during an interview with the BBC, he refused to denounce Holocaust denial. The International Definition of Antisemitism states that “denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust)” is a manifestation of antisemitism. Although Mr Loach later sought to clarify his remarks, he has continued to make inflammatory and provocative statements about Labour’s antisemitism scandal. While speaking at a meeting of the Kingswood Constituency Labour Party, Mr Loach advocated the removal from the Party of those Labour MPs, some of whom are Jewish, who have taken a principled stand against antisemitism. Shortly after that incident, the Labour Party announced that it would no longer use Mr Loach as a producer of their election broadcasts.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism has shown that Jeremy Corbyn is personally responsible for 24 incidents of antisemitic discourse, which is equal to fifteen percent of all recorded incidents involving parliamentary candidates and party leaders. Overall, Labour Party candidates for Parliament account for 82 percent of all incidents.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
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.