John McDonnell has spoken out on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show after a Sunday Times report claimed Labour is still overwhelmed with complaints about anti-Jewish racism that have been left unresolved for months or years.
Rebutting claims in the Sunday Times that more than 130 cases remain outstanding, McDonnell said there were only ever “a small number” of antisemites in his party.
He said his party has “done everything we can possibly do”, but “want to learn more lessons”.
The shadow chancellor also stressed that following investigations, Labour has “started kicking” anyone found to be antisemitic “out in numbers”.
A Labour Party spokesperson said:
All of these individuals are either expelled or suspended, and these claims about numbers of cases are categorically untrue.
McDonnell described the issue of antisemitism as “horrible”.
Asked whether if Labour loses the upcoming election, antisemitism will have been part of the reason, McDonnell said:
I worry that this has had its effect, and we’ve done everything I think we can possibly do.
We’ve apologised to the Jewish community.
Questioned on whether he really believes Labour has done all it can do, he added:
We’ve always got to learn lessons, of course we have, all political parties – but it isn’t just the Labour Party – I want us to be a shining model.
I apologise to the Jewish community for the suffering we’ve inflicted on them, I say to them we’re doing everything possible, we want to learn more lessons and we want to be the shining example of anti-racism that the Labour Party should be.
“It wasn’t so many people, it was a small number, but I don’t care how many people, one antisemite in our party is too many, and what we’re doing is we’ve started kicking them out in numbers,” he said.
Questioned whether the figure of outstanding complaints of antisemitic behaviour is accurate, he added:
No, it isn’t, from my understanding.
The individuals they’ve named we’ve kicked out, that’s the first thing, the numbers they’re talking about we’ve dealt with.
My understanding is well below that, and there will be a report in the normal way published in January.
McDonnell also repeated that he was “angry” that the Labour Party “weren’t quick enough or ruthless enough” in dealing with the issue, but that “the new procedures are dealing with that”.
He added that this is something which the report “doesn’t take into account”.
McDonnell also said he was working within the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) to “challenge” issues of antisemitism.
“Well I’m working within the LRC to challenge those issues and I think I can turn the LRC around on these particular issues. There’s a debate going on,” he said.
On 3 December, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also said on ITV’s This Morning that he was “very sorry for everything that has happened” regarding antisemitism in the Labour Party.
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