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.
Read on...Support us and go ad-free
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.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?