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BLAIRITE MP Margaret Hodge accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-semitism because of her “complete misinterpretation” of the party’s new code of conduct on the matter, John McDonnell said today.
He said that Ms Hodge’s outburst was “out of character” and that she “lost her cool” when she branded him a “racist” and “fucking anti-semite.”
The shadow chancellor told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme that he could “understand” why Ms Hodge was so angry if what she believed was true.
“Through a complete misinterpretation — she’ll admit it — she was extremely angry, lost her cool and I understand why she did now on the basis of that misinterpretation,” he claimed.
“Now I think is the time to stand back, resolve this amicably and move on.”
Mr McDonnell also said that Mr Corbyn was “deeply upset” by the confrontation.
“When you have someone haranguing you in that way, of course it’s upsetting.
“Those sorts of accusations, when he has worked so hard on the issues of anti-semitism and anti-racism — of course he’s upset.”
Ms Hodge stands by her outburst amid the debate on how best Labour deals with alleged anti-semitism within its ranks.
The party found itself divided following the ruling national executive committee’s decision not to vote on fully adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism as a standalone item.
Prominent legal figures such as Gordon Nardell and Stephen Sedley have defended the NEC decision to accept the IHRA definition but not the “examples” tacked on to it — some of which conflate criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.
But the Parliamentary Labour Party remains strongly in favour of the party adopting the examples as well. In a packed PLP meeting on Monday, Mr Corbyn managed to hold off debate on the divisive issue until Parliament reconvenes in September.
Jewish Voice for Labour said that Ms Hodge’s outburst was a “totally unjustified slur” on Mr Corbyn.
It added in a tweet that Ms Hodge “didn’t address any issue of the party having a problem with anti-semitism” beyond calling “the leader of her party an anti-semite”.
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