Unite union cancels Ken Loach political school event
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Unite union cancels Ken Loach political school event

The two day long Durham Political School event, at which Loach, expelled by Labour last year, was due to be headline speaker has been postponed, Unite sources say.

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

A Unite the Union event at which the film-maker Ken Loach was due to be the headline speaker has been postponed, Jewish News has learned.

Sources at the trade union confirm they have received confirmation that next month’s Durham Political School has been cancelled, with cost factors being cited.

The two- day long event is traditionally staged in July, immediately prior to the Durham Miners’ Gala, and is designed to be a major educational event for the union’s most promising recruits.

Adverts for this year’s event promised “two days of political education, workshops and discussion” with a pledge to attendees that “all accommodation and food costs will be covered by Unite.”

Jewish News revealed last month how Loach had been given top billing at this year’s event despite being expelled from the Labour Party last year over his membership of a proscribed group that downplayed antisemitism.

The move infuriated Jewish Labour and trade union activists.

Loach had been a staunch supporter of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of Labour, accusing party MPs of trying to undermine the Islington North MP in 2019.

He drew anger in 2017 at a fringe event at Labour conference, after a speaker reportedly questioned whether the Holocaust could be discussed, and when asked if it was acceptable, he said: “I think history is for us all to discuss, wouldn’t you?”

At the same event he added: “The founding of the state of Israel, for example, based on ethnic cleansing, is there for us all to discuss, so don’t try and subvert that by false stories of antisemitism”.

In the 1980s Loach had been director of the inflammatory play Perdition – which centred around claims of Zionist collaboration in the Holocaust.

An email circulated by Unite has suggested the Political School could be rearranged to take place at a later date.

Previous Political School events were closely associated with the leadership of former Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, and had once included senior Labour figures such as former deputy leader Tom Watson.

But Sharon Graham replaced McCluskey as Unite leader last August. Unite was later revealed to be facing a loss over an estimated £100 million spend on a Birmingham hotel complex.

A Unite spokesperson told Jewish News they would not be commenting after being approached about the cancellation of the Durham Political School.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments