Ken Loach expelled from the Labour Party
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Ken Loach expelled from the Labour Party

Filmmaker, who has repeatedly sparked anger over comments on antisemitism, claims he's the victim of a "witch-hunt".

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Film director Ken Loach 

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

Film-maker Ken Loach has confirmed he has been expelled from the Labour Party in a move he claimed was “a witch-hunt.”

Jewish News understands that the director, who repeatedly sparked anger over his comments on antisemitism, has been informed he has been “auto-excluded” from the party over his membership of a banned organisation.

Labour’s National Executive Committee last month voted voted to expel four left-wing groups “not compatible” with the party’s values.

These including the Labour Against The Witchhunt (LATW) group in which Loach has played a leading role and has acted as a sponsor.

In a statement put up on social media on Saturday  Loach wrote:”Labour HQ finally decided I’m not fit to be a member of their party, as I will not disown those already expelled. Well, I am proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimised by the purge. There is indeed a witch hunt. Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few. Solidarity. KL. ”

Confirmation of Loach’s expulsion immediately sparked a furious reaction from his supporters, including John McDonnell MP, the former shadow chancellor.

He tweeted that Loach was a “fine socialist” and said his expulsion was a “disgrace.”

Responding to McDonnell’s tweet David Hirsh, the academic and campaigner against antisemitism wrote:” Most people who defend Loach have no idea that there is any substance to the allegation of antisemitism. They assume it’s got up by the Jews.

“They don’t have the wit to educate themselves or to do simple research. ”

Loach had been a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour, accusing party MPs of trying to undermine him in 2019.

But director of the I, Daniel Blake and Kes movies had himself campaigning against Labour in the 2015 general election, standing candidates with the Left Unity party that he himself founded.

He also became actively involved with the LATW group who  were formed in 2017, by Labour activists who were suspended or expelled from the party over allegations of antisemitism.

Confirmed as one of the “sponsors” of the organisation, Loach has been photographed speaking at LATW events alongside three activists who were all expelled from Labour over antisemitism allegations – Jackie Walker, Moshe Machover and Tony Greenstein.

He also defended activists either expelled or suspended from Labour saying:”This witchhunt is nonsense.”

Loach drew further controversy in the spring of 2018 when he called on the Labour Party to suspend MPs who appeared at the Enough is Enough rally against antisemitism in the party.

He denounced the Panorama documentary into Labour antisemitism, writing to Bafta urging it to reconsider the decision to nominate it for an award.

He also drew anger in 2017 at a fringe event at Labour conference, after a speaker reportedly questioned whether the Holocaust could be discussed, and when asked if it was acceptable, he said: “I think history is for us all to discuss, wouldn’t you?”

At the same event he added: “The founding of the state of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing, is there for us all to discuss, so don’t try and subvert that by false stories of antisemitism”.

In the 1980s Loach had been director of the hugely inflammatory play Perdition – which centred around claims of Zionist collaboration in the Holocaust.

The play, which was championed by anti-Zionist campaigners, was written by Jim Allen, a long-time creative partner of Loach’s.

Fierce protests forced the Royal Court theatre in London to pull the play 48 hours before its preview in 1987.

The late Holocaust historian David Cesarani – one of Perdition’s original and sternest critics – said: “If it had been a good play, and if its history had been sound, no one would have stopped it.”

Loach protested that the cancelled play had been the victim of “censorship”.

A Labour spokesperson said last month that its NEC decided that support for any of the four organisations, including LATW, is incompatible with Labour Party membership.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments