Jewish groups in the UK have criticised Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell's claim his party is doing everything the community had asked for to eradicate antisemitism among the membership
Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies, said Mr McDonnell's comment "stretches credulity", while the Jewish Leadership Council shared a reminder of the requests they had made in March 2018.
Mr McDonnell's claim — during an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show — that Labour was doing “everything” to eradicate antisemitism came hours after it emerged a parliamentary candidate who called the former chief rabbi a “notorious hate-filled racist” was suspended.
Pressing him about his party’s “zero tolerance policy” and the 146 warnings that have been issued to members accused of antisemitism, Marr remarked: “It doesn't sound like zero tolerance to me.”
Mr McDonnell responded: “Well, the issue with that is we look at the gradations of the impact of what people had done, kicked people out.
“Other aspects were about - well, some of our Jewish members have said these people actually need re-educating. That's why we're setting up an education course.
“I'm saddened by the statements that have been made but I just give this commitment to the Jewish community: we're doing everything we possibly can and we will work with them.”
The Board of Deputies said on Sunday that it was Labour's "opaque disciplinary process that protects repeat offenders like (Chris) Williamson / (Peter) Wilsman."
It continued in a tweet: "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."
Mr McDonnell’s interview came just hours after Labour dropped another parliamentary candidate for this December's election after it emerged he called former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks a “notorious hate-filled racist”.
Matthew Collings's party membership was suspended a day after he became the candidate for South West Norfolk for what party officials said was related to his behaviour on social media.
Reminder of what we and @BoardofDeputies actually asked from Jeremy Corbyn in March 2018 as a start to eradicate antisemitism from within the Labour Party. @BBCPolitics #Marr https://t.co/JHOhdFYDwE pic.twitter.com/QIZARzxP65— Jewish Leadership Council (@JLC_uk) November 3, 2019
Earlier this week the @GnasherJew account on Twitter, which exposes antisemitism in the Labour Party, exposed Facebook posts by the 64-year-old that attacked Lord Sacks and suggested Israel controlled British politics.
In one post from August 2018, he responded to an article in which the former chief rabbi Lord Sacks said a Jeremy Corbyn remark about Zionists had been the most offensive statement by a UK politician since Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech.
Mr Collings said: “Sachs [sic] is a notorious hate-filled racist.”
South West Norfolk is the constituency currently represented by Liz Truss, the Conservative Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Mr Collings is an art critic for the Evening Standard who has also presented programmes for the BBC.