John McDonnell 'completely condemns' anti-Israel posters and says they must be removed

Posted On: 
6th September 2018

John McDonnell has hit out anti-Israel posters being put up on bus stops and demanded that they be taken down.

John McDonnell backed Sadiq Khan's earlier calls to have the posters removed
PA Images

The Shadow Chancellor said he "completely condemns" the rogue ads put up by campaign group LDNPalestineAction which declare "Israel is a racist endeavour".

His call echoed comments by a spokesman for London mayor Sadiq Khan, who described the posters as "offensive" ordered them to be removed.

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But Mr McDonnell's remarks appeared to put him at odds with the official position of the Labour party, which stopped short of criticising the posters earlier today.

The adverts began appearing on bus stops around London after Labour's ruling body fully adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's definition of anti-Semitism.

When asked for his opinion on the posters, Mr McDonnell told BBC’s PoliticsLive they should "definitely" be taken down.

"No, it’s not the right thing to say, it’s against the examples that we set out yesterday and linked to the IHRA definitions," he said.

Mr McDonnell added: "It’s not at all anti-Semitic to be able to describe a state as racist. On the Windrush issue I was describing the British state as racist, but it is anti-Semitic saying having a state of Israel is racist. That’s not, of course you can argue for a state."

On the crisis surrounding anti-Jewish racism which engulfed Labour over the summer more generally, Mr McDonnell said it should have been dealt with "quicker and sooner" but said the party had moved "terrifically well" by adopting the IHRA examples.

"I think it’s moving on, but we’ve now got to move beyond the individual parties and into the wider communities as well, and what this poster has done at least now – I completely condemn it – what this poster has done now is said actually now we move this debate into the community and we can explain in detail exactly, and learn ourselves, this has been a learning experience for me."

Asked to comment on the posters, a Labour spokesperson would only say: "This material hasn't been created or endorsed by the Labour Party."

A spokesperson for Sadiq Khan said: "These offensive adverts are not authorised and are acts of vandalism which Transport for London and its advertising partner takes extremely seriously. They have instructed their contractors to remove any posters found on their network immediately."

In a statement, Transport for London said: "These adverts are absolutely not authorised by TfL or our advertising partner JCDecaux.

"It is fly posting and therefore an act of vandalism which we take extremely seriously. We have instructed our contractors to remove any of these posters found on our network immediately."