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Sunday shows round-up: John McDonnell reveals Labour’s anti-Semitism response

17 February 2019

2:32 PM

17 February 2019

2:32 PM

John McDonnell – We’ve got to be ruthless on anti-Semitism

The Shadow Chancellor sat down with Andrew Marr this morning and they broached the topic of anti-Semitism within the Labour party. Figures were released earlier this week showing that the party had received 673 official complaints since April, with 96 individuals having been suspended for their conduct. Marr asked McDonnell if the party was doing enough:

AM: Has Labour got a ‘no tolerance’ for anti-Semitism policy?

JMD: Yes we have… Where it’s intolerable, where it’s repeated… not only should we kick them out of the party, my view is there should be life bans as well.

AM: You’re not kicking many people out.

JMD: We’re not fast enough, and that’s why Jennie Formby has doubled the staff, brought in a QC… she’s multiplied the number of committees who are dealing with it. She’s also suggested other reforms. We’ve got to be ruthless about this.

Second referendum option ‘has got to be there’

Marr queried McDonnell about what his party’s policy was on a second Brexit referendum after Unite leader Len McCluskey poured scorn on the idea:

AM: Len McCluskey says that having another referendum ‘threatens the whole democratic fabric on which we operate. In reality, it’s not the best option for our nation’.

JMD: He’s saying it’s not the best option because he’s saying that you’d only go back to the people in extremis – if you can’t get a deal agreed through Parliament, or if any deal you thought wasn’t going to protect jobs and the economy, you’d have to go back to the people, and I think that’s right.

Jeremy Wright –  We will consider social media penalties

The Culture Secretary also joined Marr to discuss the government’s plans for regulation of social media companies, which has become a headline issue since the tragic death of teenager Molly Russell:


JW: It’s important that those companies understand that there are meaningful sanctions available to us if they don’t do what they should… We will be meeting very senior people from all of the companies that we’re going to talk to… The British Government will come to its own conclusions about what is exactly necessary to keep our citizens safe.

There’s no doubt that we can’t any longer rely on the internet companies to do it for themselves. We need to take action as a government and we intend to do that. But I want to make sure we get the design right.

Shamima Begum ‘will have to answer for her actions’

The discussion turned to the case of Shamima Begum, the teenager who travelled from east London to join the so-called Islamic State when she was just 15. With the caliphate now in ruins, and with Begum having just given birth to a child, the question has been raised as to whether she should be allowed to return to the UK:

AM: Is her baby British?

JW: I think that is a difficult question… What really matters I think is to determine what should happen instantly and urgently to her, because we do have to be concerned about the health of that baby. We have to be concerned about her health too. But in the end, she will have to answer for her actions.

Andy Burnham – Labour split not inevitable

Sophy Ridge spoke to the Mayor of Greater Manchester about the much discussed possibility of Labour experiencing a breakaway faction of disgruntled MPs:

AB: I don’t think it’s inevitable. The colleagues that I worked with in Parliament have a deep loyalty to the Labour party, so I think at the moment it’s more speculation than reality, but…  we’re living though a degree of uncertainty that I don’t think any of us have ever experienced, and there has to be a realignment coming out of all of this.

‘We need a working customs arrangement’

Burnham also spelt out the nature of the deal that he wanted to see achieved as a result of cooperation between the government and the opposition:

Greater Manchester sends 60 per cent of its exports to Europe. We cannot be in a position where from the beginning of April onwards, those business are facing barriers and tariffs… We need that working customs arrangement. And I’m afraid the time has come for the Prime Minister to part company with those hardliners in her party, because there is not a deal that she can do with them that will be acceptable to the rest of the country.

Richard Dannatt – Islamic State ideology is not yet defeated

And finally, the former chief of the general staff Lord Dannatt told Ridge that despite president Trump’s proclamation that the Islamic State is ‘ready to fall’, that does not mean that the West can afford to be complacent:

RD: That doesn’t end the caliphate idea. It’s an ideology, it’s a dream, it’s a vision, and it will reoccur elsewhere. I’m afraid that’s just a fact of 21st century life… We may well complete the recapture the territory that [IS] had, but the ideology, the thinking, the support behind it, that is going to continue and that will remain the struggle for this generation, perhaps even the next generation as well.

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