George McManus, who sits on the Labour Party’s National Policy Forum as its first chair, has been suspended from his Party role after posting a Facebook comment about Tom Watson likening him to “Judas” for accepting donations from Jewish businessman Sir Trevor Chinn.
McManus wrote: “Apparently [the] Electoral Commission states that Watson received £50,000+ from Jewish donors. At least Judas only got 30 pieces of silver.” Judas was supposedly a disciple of Jesus who betrayed him for money, and is often used as a means of portraying Jews as money-obsessed and disloyal.
Labour MP Wes Streeting condemned Mr McManus’ post as an “antisemitic trope”, and veteran Labour activist Luke Akehurst decried it as “naked antisemitism, jumping straight to the medieval Christian version”.
Mr McManus’ suspension came after Luciana Berger, leader of the Jewish Labour Movement, submitted a formal complaint to the Party. In response to his suspension Momentum, which Mr McManus represents on the National Policy Forum, tweeted thanks to those who “drew attention to the appalling, antisemitic comment”, and assured their followers that Momentum will not tolerate “any antisemitism, racism or online abuse from candidates we support”.
Mr McManus has since deleted the post and apologised, calling his comments “crass”, “wrong”, “inappropriate and hurtful” . However, his actions, and the reaction from Labour MPs both supporting and denouncing him, is just one more example of how entrenched antisemitism has become in a divided Labour Party, and how woefully overdue current attempts are to eliminate it.
Last week, Campaign Against Antisemitism referred the Labour Party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission over discrimination and victimisation in the Party.
George McManus is a longstanding Momentum-backed member of Labour's National Policy Forum. This is pretty naked antisemitism, jumping straight to the medieval Christian version. pic.twitter.com/scdBQzJPZ6
— Luke Akehurst (@lukeakehurst) August 6, 2018
More from the cesspit. This isn't even subtle. This is 100% a classic antisemitic trope – and from a Momentum-backed member of Labour's National Policy Forum. Will swift action be taken @jeremycorbyn @JennieGenSec? pic.twitter.com/0fNui8fq38
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) August 6, 2018