John McDonnell last night appeared to spurn calls to actively push for Jackie Walker to be removed from the board of a group of which he is honorary president.
The former Momentum vice-chair was expelled from Labour this week for bringing the party into disrepute including over comments which may reasonably be deemed antisemitic.
But Walker remains on the board of the Labour Representation Committee, to which she was elected last month at a conference addressed by McDonnell. The group has previously defended Ken Livingstone against accusations of antisemitism in the row over his comments over Hitler and Zionism, describing him as a “victim” and claiming Labour’s disciplinary procedures contain “not a whiff of ‘due process’”.
The LRC has now published a statement on its website from Jewish Voice for Labour describing Walker’s expulsion as a “travesty of justice” and suggesting the party will soon “come to be deeply ashamed of this passage in its history”.
A Board of Deputies spokesperson said: “John McDonnell should insist that Jackie Walker resigns or is removed from her post on the board of the Labour Representation Committee, or resign from his position as its Honorary President. Anything less would be craven tolerance of antisemitism.”
McDonnell has yet to comment on the expulsion but a spokesperson for the shadow chancellor told Jewish News: “John has no day to day involvement in the operation of the LRC.”
Walker was initially disciplined after saying that “many Jews were chief financiers of the slave trade”, before being quickly readmitted after an investigation.
Walker was again suspended in October 2016 after being filmed at a Jewish Labour Movement training event at the party’s annual conference, saying Holocaust Memorial Day should include other genocides – which it already does. She also said she had not yet seen a definition of antisemitism she could “work with”.
Since her suspension, Walker has been touring the country with a film about how she was “lynched” by Israel supporters, after she was twice suspended.
In an interview with Jewish News last year, McDonnell describes the row over the IHRA definition as an “absolute nightmare” and called for greater dialogue with the community.
But asked if he was uncomfortable to be associated with the LRC, he said: “I’m not going to disassociate myself from an organisation I founded because they disagree with me or I disagree with them on these particular issues because on most issues I agree with them and they have been a beneficial force in the Labour party and in other policy areas. I’ve made my position clear, I completely disagree if I’m honest.”
The LRC has been contacted for comment.