Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell has turbocharged the campaign of Jewish Voice for Labour co-founder Jenny Manson to become an MP after agreeing to appear at an event with her in Barnet.
McDonnell will appear in a head-to-head with Manson on 11 October in a talk live-screened by Barnet Momentum, the grassroots left-wing group championing her bid to become a Labour MP.
Manson, a secular Jew and vociferous Israel critic who is now crowd-funding for her parliamentary candidacy, has previously served as a Labour councillor for four years and stood for Hendon North in 1987.
She joined Jews for Justice for Palestinians in 2001 and in 2017 helped set up JVL as a Jewish socialist network seen as an antidote to the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), from where she has repeatedly defended Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
McDonnell, who recently told Jewish News that he had good relations with JLM, said former tax inspector Manson “will make an excellent candidate,” adding: “Jenny is a fine socialist and a splendid advocate on behalf of our movement.”
Manson, whose Ukrainian mother grew up in Haifa after escaping a pogrom, has criticised the Jewish Labour Movement “in which you don’t have to be either Jewish or Labour, you just have to be a movement… their name is misleading”.
McDonnell’s support will raise eyebrows so soon after the party conference, in which Corbyn told the mainstream Jewish community that Labour was “an ally,” because JVL held a counter-demonstration at the ‘Enough is Enough’ rally earlier this year, arguing that the crisis had been blown out of all proportion by right-wing Jews.
The Labour front-bencher denied the idea that endorsing Manson’s candidacy would further damage Labour-Jewish community relations in an interview with Jewish News last month.
“I don’t think it would,” he said. “We’ve got to get to a situation where we can create a climate where people can have disagreements but respect each other. I think Jenny Manson is a really good example where she can express disagreement with JLM but she will always do it in a measured way.”
He added: “The JVL is a way in which views can be expressed and we keep saying about the Labour party that it’s a broad church, left right and centre, but it’s a broad church on a whole range of views as well. JLM appreciate that.”