McDonnell in overdrive as he courts grassroots at conference

Shadow Chancellor listed for dozens of speeches including events with figures that have dismissed antisemitism.

John McDonnell is in overdrive as he courts the grassroots at dozens of speeches at Labour conference.

The Shadow Chancellor will also speak alongside controversial figures that have dismissed Labour’s antisemitism crisis as a conspiracy.

Labour’s official conference guide shows that McDonnell is down to speak at 13 fringe events at conference, and is listed as having been invited to a further nine. The total does not include appearances he will make at dinners, regional parties and unofficial fringe meetings.

He is due to speak alongside general secretary of the PCS union Mark Serwotka, who recently claimed antisemitism “does not exist” in the Labour party and that the row had been “created” by Israel. He will also put in an appearance at an event organised with the Merseyside Pensioners Association, an organisation led by former Liverpool Militant leaders, that has called Labour’s antisemitism crisis a “toxic conspiracy”.

McDonnell’s willingness to appear alongside such figures appears to contradict his recent promise to call out conspiracy theories about antisemitism.

McDonnell’s busy conference schedule will do little to dispel rumours that he is preparing to take the reins should Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership come apart.

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