Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell is the headline speaker at the annual meeting of a far-left group which dismisses reporting of Labour antisemitism as “propaganda” and defends the right to call Israel “intrinsically racist” this Saturday.
A statement released by the LRC, first revealed by the Jewish Chronicle in December, outlines its policies for the year ahead and was agreed by its national executive on which John McDonnell sits. A Labour spokesperson previously insisted that McDonnell “has no day-to-day involvement in the operation of the LRC and is not responsible for its website or for posts on social media by its supporters”.
It condemns an “onslaught of propaganda” including “the accusation that the [Labour] Party harbours large numbers of antisemites, and even that Corbyn himself is antisemitic”. It adds that “these false allegations are intended to weaponise the accusations of antisemitism against Labour” and insists “such allegations must be challenged politically”.
McDonnell’s tacit endorsement of such statements would appear to contradict his insistence on a live LBC phone-in this week that Labour’s long-running antisemitism crisis “isn’t a smear campaign”.
Another section of the LRC policy statement hits out at rival far-left group Momentum, saying “it has shown itself on many occasions to fall far short of what is needed for the movement to grow” adding that “the drive to get the IHRA definition and examples of antisemitism adopted by the NEC, the attempt to block a [Jewish Voice for Labour] member standing for the NCC and the attempt to block Pete Willsman winning a place on the NEC exposed these shortcomings to a wider audience.”
It also reopens debate over the IHRA definition of antisemitism by defending “criticism of Israel, up to and including the argument that, as a colonial settler state, it is an intrinsically racist endeavour”.
The conference will debate an amendment tabled by the controversial far-left group Labour Against the Witch Hunt (LAW) that goes even further, claiming “a concerted campaign was launched by the pro-Zionist Board of Deputies and the Right to paint the Left and Jeremy Corbyn as antisemites” while insisting that “zero tolerance is the wrong approach” in tackling antisemitism in Labour’s ranks.
LAW activist Jackie Walker, suspended from Labour since 2016 when she claimed Jews “were the chief financiers of the slave trade”, is set to be elected as the LRC’s black and minority ethnic representative unopposed at the conference. She is also likely to win a place on the editorial board of Labour Briefing, the LRC’s newspaper to which John McDonnell is a regular contributor.
Faiza Shaheen, head of the trade union backed CLASS think tank and Labour’s candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green, is also due to address the conference, along with FBU general secretary Matt Wrack and Jennifer Forbes, Labour’s candidate for Falmouth and Truro.