Barry Gardiner: Ken Loach ‘absolutely wrong’ to call for deselections over anti-Semitism rally

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Barry Gardiner: Ken Loach ‘absolutely wrong’ to call for deselections over anti-Semitism rally

Labour's shadow international trade secretary criticises left-wing director for saying MPs who appeared at Enough Is Enough event should be kicked out

Barry Gardiner speaking on BBC Question Time
Barry Gardiner speaking on BBC Question Time

Ken Loach was “absolutely wrong” to suggest Labour MPs who attended a rally against anti-Semitism should be deselected, a shadow cabinet minister said.

Barry Gardiner also said Jeremy Corbyn had indicated a similar message in a letter to support one of the MPs who attended the rally outside Parliament.

Appearing on BBC Question Time, Mr Gardiner said MPs had a right to attend the rally against anti-Semitism, which some have viewed as an indirect attack on Mr Corbyn.

The Labour leader has written a personal letter to the constituency of one Labour MP who attended the rally, Anna McMorrin, saying she had every right to be there, Mr Gardiner said.

Film director Ken Loach
Photo credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Film maker Mr Loach reportedly said those MPs who attended the event should be kicked out of the party.

Mr Gardiner said: “Ken Loach was absolutely wrong, and Jeremy has said as much. Jeremy has said exactly that in the letter that he sent from his office to Anna to support her for being there.”

Asked whether his party needs to tackle anti-Semitism, Gardiner responded, “yes we absolutely do”.

“It should not have happened, I find it shameful as a member of the Labour Party for 40 odd years.. that this is part of what is happening in my party. But The Labour Party is now more than half a million strong. It reflects not only the good policies and virtues… but of course there are people that reflect all walks of society, and inevitably we reflect society with its bad points too.”

What we are absolutely committed to, is eradicating it from the Labour Party, and that’s what Jeremy has made absolutely clear.”

He added, that just last week Jeremy Corbyn had written to every member of the party, urging more vigilance tackling anti-Semitism.

The Labour shadow minister also said he’s “appalled by the rise of anti-Semitism in our society”, quoting figures by the Community Security Trust, who have identified 22 attacks on Jewish schools this year, saying “these are our children and they’re facing these kinds of attacks”.

Jewish journalist Jonathan Freedland responded to Gardiner’s claim that anti-Semitism exists as a reflection of society, saying the “reason that’s not good enough is.. we expect Labour to be better than that. It doesn’t just exist to reflect society, it exists to change society.”

It also betrays a misunderstanding. As if somehow the racists who have been exposed.. somehow wandered into this party by mistake, They thought it said BNP on the door and they accidentally just found themselves in there. That’s not how it worked.”

“Anti-Semitism, racism is a general thing, but there is a very specific kind of left anti-Semitism and people struggle to understand this..

In the case of anti-Jewish racism, there is a dual character. Yes you look down and despise this group you think are inferior, but anti-Semites also say that Jews are cunningly above as well as below. That they’re powerful and secretly pulling the strings of the world.

“That is what the left are particularly susceptible to.”

Gardiner did however praise councillors in Liverpool, where the show was taking place, for taking the “progressive step” of inviting an “old friend” Rabbi Martin Van Den Bergh, former rabbi at Wembley United Synagogue in his constituency, to come and “explain to them, and make them aware of what anti-Semitism is like and how it affects he community. ”

Gardiner added that he studied Hebrew as one of the subjects he took at university, attended his first seder over 35 years ago, and helped to bring the Jews’ Free School (JFS) from Camden to his own constituency in Brent North, which is the largest Jewish secondary school in Europe.

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