Communal leaders have hit back at Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell, after he claimed the party is “doing everything we can” to get on top of the antisemitism row.
The close ally of Jeremy Corbyn said he was “so saddened” after being confronted with front pages of the three major Jewish newspapers, relaying the community’s fears of a Labour government.
He made his comments while speaking on BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, where he was showed the Jewish News, Jewish Chronicle and Jewish Telegraph front pages, each with a highly critical messages.
This paper’s front page asked if a Corbyn government could be the ‘nightmare before Chanukah?‘, while the JC and JT references rabbi Jonathan Romain who told his congregants to vote in any way to stop Corbyn.
Reacting to the front pages, McDonnell said he is “so saddened by this. I just want to reassure them that we’re doing everything we can”.
“Everything I said we would do we are doing in terms of the Labour Party in terms of eradicating antisemitism from the party.”
The Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council hit back at McDonnell, with the Board saying his claim that Labour was doing “everything we can” to fight Jew-hate “stretches credulity”.
They also urged him to step down from a left-wing organisation he helped found, which questions claims of antisemitism.
John McDonnell’s claim to @AndrewMarr9 that Labour is ‘doing all the things [the Jewish community has] asked’ over antisemitism stretches credulity. Labour’s opaque disciplinary process that protects repeat offenders like Williamson/Willsman. Here is what we’ve asked #Marr 1/2 https://t.co/gqESnm7iZh pic.twitter.com/GqdQtzZYod
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) November 3, 2019
They added that “Labour’s opaque disciplinary process.. protects repeat offenders like [Chris] Williamson/[Pete] Willsman”, before sharing a letter written in July, with a list of recommendations for the party to fight the issue.
“If Mr McDonnell really wants to show he’s serious about tackling antisemitism, he will resign from Labour Representation Committee, which campaigns against disciplinary action for antisemites & has the expelled Jackie Walker on its board, as we have asked him to do”.
This week a, poll by Survation, commissioned by the Jewish Leadership Council, showed that one-in-four would vote Liberal Democrat, and Labour’s support was down significantly, as reported exclusively by Jewish News.
This comes after the Jewish Labour Movement issued a statement saying they would not be campaigning for any candidates, except in “exceptional circumstances”, such as its chair, Ruth Smeeth.
Last year, Jewish News, The Jewish Telegraph and Jewish Chronicle issued a joint editorial under the banner of “United We Stand“, claiming that a Jeremy Corbyn-led government may pose an “existential threat” to British Jews.
Mr McDonnell also expressed optimism over Labour’s chances in the December 12 election despite polls putting them far behind the Tories.