John McDonnell doesn't really help Labour's antisemitism row
In a Today programme interview the shadow chancellor mistakenly said party is antisemitic and accused Margaret Hodge of 'haranguing' leader
John McDonnell did the media rounds in an effort to take the heat out of a number of Labour crises. It was not an unqualified success.
Quizzed by Justin Webb on Radio 4's Today programme about the antisemitism row that saw party grandee Dame Margaret Hodge corner Jeremy Corbyn last week and apparently dub him a "f**cking antisemite and a racist" to his face McDonnell insisted: "We are a party that is anti-racist and antisemitic." He quickly corrected himself to say: "Sorry, we are against antisemitism. We are a party that attacks antisemitism wherever it is, either in our party or in our community."
Hodge is facing internal disciplinary action after her outburst. McDonnell called for that process to be concluded speedily. He said Corbyn was upset after being 'harangued' by Hodge and suggested she had misunderstood the party's new rules on anti-semitism. However he was criticised on social media for 'mansplaining' and for his attitude to Hodge.
McDonnell had more luck in defending his Corbyn's speech on Brexit yesterday. The Labour leader was accused of scapegoating immigrants in some media despite it being clear from the speech's text that his criticism was aimed at the process that has seen British manufacturing run down in favour of cheap factories overseas. McDonnell explained that Labour believe the government should support British jobs through procurement and took aim in particular at the UK buying ships from abroad rather than backing British shipyards.