GMB trade union general secretary Gary Smith has launched an outspoken attack on Labour members who still defend the film-maker Ken Loach following his expulsion from the party over his support for a banned group that denies and downplays antisemitism.
Gary Smith spoke of his anger at hearing speaker at Labour conference continuing to defend Loach, despite his history of comments about the Holocaust, Israel and Zionism.
Addressing a Jewish Labour Movement rally at the Queens Hotel in Brighton, Smith said: “I find it horrific that people in the party are still praising Ken Loach in the way they do.”
He added: “That shows how far we still have to go to challenge antisemitism.”
In a passionate address to the packed room, Smith recalled how he had moved to expel Scottish member Pete Gregson from his union over antisemitism allegations.
Loach had been amongst those to express support for Gregson, who had claimed the “Zionist” JLM were trying to undermine democracy in the UK.
Smith told Sunday evening’s fringe event at Labour conference that he had been on the brink of quitting the party because of “shameful” antisemitism.
He also praised Labour General Secretary David Evans for his fight against antisemitism but questioned whether he was “going hard enough and fast enough to weed out this toxicity in the party.”
Smith also said the Israel Palestine debate had become a favoured space for “middle class racists.”
The JLM event also saw London Mayor Sadiq Khan, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar, Margaret Hodge, Ruth Smeeth and Camden Council leader Georgia Gould deliver speeches.
Barnet councillor Sara Conway also spoke at the packed event, which was attended by both the Jewish Leadership Council’s Claudia Mendoza and Board President Marie van der Zyl.
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