A Labour mayor has controversially shared a platform with the expelled outspoken filmmaker Ken Loach.
Jamie Driscoll, the Mayor of North of Tyne, appeared alongside Mr Loach at an event in Newcastle.
Mr Driscoll was elected with the backing of Momentum, and remains one of the most prominent pro-Corbyn figures in the Labour Party, although he has reportedly described the “Corbynista tag” as an attempt to “define us by London Westminster politics”.
In the past, Sir Keir Starmer has promised to sanction Labour members who share platforms with expelled members, but has not fulfilled this pledge.
Mr Loach was expelled from the Labour Party in August 2021 without public explanation. Mr Loach had been a leading ally of other controversial figures in Labour’s antisemitism scandal, especially those who denied that there was such a scandal of antisemitism. He said at the time of his expulsion: “Labour HQ finally decided I’m not fit to be a member of their party, as I will not disown those already expelled,” adding that he was “proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimised by the purge. There is indeed a witch-hunt…Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few. Solidarity.”
Mr Loach’s voice was among the loudest of those who attempt to dismiss Labour’s antisemitism crisis as non-existent and a right-wing smear campaign. He claimed that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was subjected to a “torrent of abuse” that was “off the scale” and that regardless of what he did, the “campaign” of antisemitism accusations was “going to run and run”. 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.
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.
The Labour Party was found by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to have engaged in unlawful discrimination and harassment of Jews. The report followed the EHRC’s investigation of the Labour Party in which Campaign Against Antisemitism was the complainant, submitting hundreds of pages of evidence and legal argument. Sir Keir Starmer called the publication of the report a “day of shame” for the Labour Party.
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.