John McDonnell defends attending Zoom meeting with expelled Labour activists

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John McDonnell defends attending Zoom meeting with expelled Labour activists

Former Shadow Chancellor dismisses 'ridiculous' claim he knowingly shared a platform with Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

John McDonnell  appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme last year, The Andrew Marr Show. Photo credit: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
John McDonnell appearing on the BBC1 current affairs programme last year, The Andrew Marr Show. Photo credit: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

Labour’s former Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has defended sharing a platform with expelled party activists Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein. 

The Board of Deputies has called for the party to launch an investigation, with the Labour MP dismissing claims it broke a pledge with the Board of Deputies, as “ridiculous”. 

The MP was joined by former colleague Laura Pidcock at the Labour Representative Committee’s (LRC) AGM on Saturday 5 September, according to Greenstein’s blog. 

McDonnell is the founding president of the LRC, which has previously been criticised for standing by Walker, and suggesting antisemitism claims against Labour were “ruling class propaganda”.  

In January 2020, all Labour leadership candidates signed up to the Board of Deputies’ ‘ten pledges’ to eradicate antisemitism. This included a commitment that MPs, Peers, councillors, members and local parties, should not “support, campaign or provide a platform for people who have been suspended or expelled” or they “should themselves be suspended from membership.”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “Labour must investigate this very serious potential breach of the Ten Pledges, to which all the Labour leadership candidates signed up.” 

If any senior MPs and members have been sharing platforms with people who have been suspended or expelled in the wake of antisemitic incidents, they should themselves face a firm disciplinary action. A culture of permissiveness around antisemitism should not be tolerated.”

Asked about the alleged breach John McDonnell responded to Jewish News, saying: “Don’t be ridiculous, speaking to an open Zoom meeting which is not hosted by me or whose audience is not selected by me or even monitored by me, could not in any rational judgement be construed as providing a platform, support or campaigning for individuals who may or may not be attending.”

Walker, who was on the board of the LRC, was expelled by Labour in March 2019 for bringing the party into disrepute. LRC issued a statement calling it a “travesty of justice”. Greenstein was kicked out over offensive comments online, including one which mocked the phrase ‘final solution’

Labour has been approached for comment.

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