Board of Deputies decries 'astounding' decision to keep Ken Loach as judge of anti-racism competition

The filmmaker will judge Show Racism the Red Card's schools competition, despite his dismissals of Labour antisemitism


CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 17: Ken Loach attends the "Sorry We Missed You" Photocall during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Antony Jones/Getty Images)

The Board of Deputies has criticised a leading anti-racism charity for standing by their choice of Ken Loach, a defender of Jeremy Corbyn against antisemitism, as one of the judges in a schools competition.

The Board called it "astounding" that Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC) would appoint Mr Loach as a judge in the competition, where young people are asked to produce art on an anti-racist theme.

Amanda Bowman, a senior vice president, said on Thursday: “That a so-called anti-racist charity would ignore a minority community’s concerns about racism is both astounding and shameful.”

“The Jewish community will no longer have any confidence in Show Racism the Red Card’s trustees, its CEO, or their ability to show antisemitism the red card."

SRtRC selected Ken Loach as a judge for the annual competition in early February. It said that it would reconsider the decision a subsequent trustee meeting.

The choice of Jewish children’s author Michael Rosen, another well-known defender of the Labour Party against antisemitism allegations, also raised eyebrows.

On February 13, the Board of Deputies wrote to SRtRC outlining their concerns about Mr Loach’s suitability.

SRtRC did not reply, though its chief executive, Ged Grebby, had earlier responded to criticism of Mr Loach and Mr Rosen’s selection, saying that he could not “think of two better people qualified to choose winners.”

In 2017, Mr Loach caused outraged at the Labour Party Conference when he reacted to news a speaker had defended people's right to ask "The Holocaust yes or no" by saying: "History is for everyone to discuss."

Mr Loach has been an outspoken defender of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and has described those raising stories of antisemitism in Labour are “mischief-making” and are “the ones we need to kick out”.

He described allegations of antisemitism within the Labour Party as “exaggerated or false”, and characterised a BBC Panorama investigation into the issue as "disgusting". 

MIke Katz, the Chair of the Jewish Labour's Movement's also condemnded SRtRC saying it suggests that "your organisation is not committeed to tackling anti-Jewish racism." 

"What kind of message does this send to the Jeewish community?"

SRtRC was formed in 1996 and its competition runs across 474 schools with 27,000 young people taking part last year.


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