A self-described revolutionary socialist expelled by the Labour Party launched a rambling attack on “billionaire Zionist politicians” during a BBC TV interview.
Gerry Downing – whose far-left group Socialist Fight has previously called for “critical support and tactical military assistance from the working class” to terror groups including Hamas and the Islamic State – appeared on BBC2’s Daily Politics on Wednesday night.
His televised criticism of Israel’s “heinous crimes” and “Zionist politicians within the ruling classes of America and Europe” was blasted as “toxic” by a fellow panellist on the popular show.
Downing had his membership cancelled by the party’s National Executive Committee for the second time on Wednesday. It followed his readmission earlier in the week, which led Prime Minister David Cameron to question Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to allow Downing back in during Wednesday’s session in Parliament.
John Mann, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, also added his voice, saying “This man has no place in the Labour Party, he should be thrown out immediately.”
Downing’s readmission to Brent Central Labour Party this week had been described by former Labour Friends of Israel chair John Woodcock as a “terrible stain” on the party’s record after details of his previous statements came to light.
According to the Jewish News, Socialist Fight’s website has hosted a number of anti-Semitic articles in the past, including a call for Marxists to “address the Jewish question”.
Downing’s tense encounter with veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil saw his rhetoric likened to the “Protocols [of the Elders] of Zion”.
The retired bus driver was also challenged for conflating the actions of the Israeli government with those of the Jewish people.
Asked to define the “Jewish question”, Downing said: “It is the fact that Israel can commit absolutely heinous crimes against the Palestinians – they can bomb them without let or hindrance and it is presented in the western media as an attack on terrorists.”
The Irishman added: “This is based on a material political fact of the overwhelming political authority of Zionist politicians within the ruling classes of America and Europe” and not their Jewish origins.”
A further intervention on the subject of “millionaires and billionaires of the Zionist persuasion” prompted Neil to ask: “Isn’t that very reminiscent of what the Nazis said in Germany in the 1930s – that there were these rich Jews controlling the German economy?”
Downing “rejected absolutely” the argument that his views could in any way be interpreted as anti-Semitic.
As recently as yesterday – when prime minister David Cameron attack his “appalling” views in the House of Commons – Downing tweeted a link to an article criticising the “world ‘Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie’”.
Before his expulsion yesterday, a CST spokesman said his membership would “only add fuel to communal concerns about anti-Semitism problems in and around parts of the Labour Party”.
Phillip Collins, a former speechwriter for Tony Blair and fellow Daily Politics guest, said he was “absolutely delighted” that Downing had been expelled.