Decision reversed after JN journalist blocked from attending McDonnell-JVL event

Decision reversed after JN journalist blocked from attending McDonnell-JVL event

Paper's reporter initially told they're uninvited to 'head-to-head' meeting between the shadow chancellor and Jenny Manson

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell 

Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Jenny Manson, the chair of Jewish Voice for Labour, has caused uproar in north-west London after a number of people due to come and see her in conversation with Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell were arbitrarily banned on the night before the event.

Ms Manson and Mr McDonnell were due to hold a “head-to-head” event as part of the activist’s bid to win Labour nomination to run for an unspecified seat in Barnet. There has been speculation that she may run either in Chipping Barnet or in the “flashpoint” seat of Finchley and Golders Green, currently held by the Conservative MP Mike Freer.

On Wednesday night, just before midnight, numbers of people — some known as pro-Israel activists, some not — received emails from “Jenny’s Campaign Team” informing them that their ticket order to attend the event had been cancelled.

Two journalists, Etan Smallman and this reporter, were told that the cancellation was due to “no media accreditation” having been requested. This decision has now reportedly been reversed, and the journalist for this paper will be allowed to attend.

The Jewish News, which applied for the ticket for this reporter, said that there had been no separate opportunity on the ticket application to attend as media.

Jenny Manson

Among those refused a ticket are understood to be well-known activists such as Jonathan Hoffman, Richard Millett, David Collier, Euan Phillips of Labour Against Antisemitism and others such as Joanne Bell and Gillian Lazarus.

Days before the event ticket-holders were sent an email by the conference organisers, which indicated, for those willing to read between the lines, that a tight rein was going to be kept on the content of the discussion. Ticket-holders were advised: “Please note that despite inaccurate reports in the media this is not a JVL organised event (or a Barnet Momentum one though we do use some resources as some of us are members of BM) but it is being run by Jenny Manson’s friends and supporters. Both organisations do of course support Jenny, and some LP members are also members of one or both organisations”.

The notification continued: “In general the event is meant to cover a variety of domestic Labour policy issues directly related to the economy, the financial crash, resulting austerity measures, housing, poverty, the justice system, privatisation and nationalisation, taxation/government revenue, social care provision, etc. If these topics are of no interest to you then we don’t want you to come all the way and feel disappointed. So, again, please be considerate and cancel your order if you think this is not the event for you so we can issue the ticket to someone else”.

In other words, Labour and antisemitism were not on the agenda for discussion. But Mr McDonnell, who was keen to “draw a line” under Labour’s woes with antisemitism, may now find that his embrace of Jewish Voice for Labour’s leading light has in fact focused the issue all the more strongly.

Jenny Manson’s campaign team has been contacted for comment.

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