John McDonnell calls Ian Austin an 'embittered, tragic figure'

Shadow chancellor attacks former Labour MP who quit party over antisemitism



Shadow chancellor John McDonnell has described former Labour MP Ian Austin, who quit the party citing antisemitism under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, as an “embittered, tragic figure” in a Sunday Times interview.

Mr Austin, whose father escaped the Holocaust, has said he would not stand again in the Dudley North constituency he had represented since 2005 and has backed Boris Johnson for prime minister “to make sure Jeremy Corbyn does not get anywhere near to Downing Street”.

In the interview, Mr McDonnell also claimed “we’re doing everything we possibly can” about antisemitism within the Labour Party. 

Asked if he was worried his perception of the issue differed so radically from that of the public, he dismissed the discrepancy as “the distortion of the media kaleidoscope. On the ground our membership is huge”, and claimed Labour had a “broad church”.

On his history of using violent language, Mr McDonnell said: “I would have never advocated violent change… People associate revolution with violence and I don’t want to advocate violence at all. Extra-parliamentary action, yeah, demonstrations and strikes, of course. But people have this concept of revolution being violent. 

“We use the word transformation now, which is about the wholesale transformation of our society, and the mechanism we do that through is parliament. However, there are times when you need direct action to make sure that society knows that governments can’t walk over you.”

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