Unite’s Len McCluskey apologises for telling Peter Mandelson to go ‘count his gold’

Trade union boss Len McCluskey has apologised this morning after he said Labour veteran Peter Mandelson should go into a room and “count his gold”.

The General Secretary of Unite has sparked a backlash for the comment he made about Lord Mandelson who has Jewish heritage.

Mr McCluskey told BBC’s Newsnight: “Whatever Pete. I stopped listening to what Peter Mandelson said many many years ago.

“I would suggest that Peter just goes into a room and counts his gold and not worry about what’s happening in the Labour Party.

“Leave that to those of us that are interested in ordinary working people.”

New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson (Matt Writtle)

Lord Mandelson, a former business secretary, had a Jewish grandfather called Norman who was the founder and president of Harrow United Synagogue. His father Tony was also an advertising director of the Jewish Chronicle.

Lord Mandelson told the JC in 2010 that he still kept Friday nights and added: “It’s not that I am religious. It’s the extended family, which part of me wants to be part of.”

Mr McCluskey made the comments in an interview during a segment on Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership.

They were made in response to comments made by Lord Mandelson in which he had praised the leadership of Sir Keir.

Responding to the comments, the national chair of Jewish Labour Mike Katz tweeted: “Stay classy, Len. Pretty disgusted by his language on Lewis Goodall’s film for Newsnight. But I’d guess he’s best placed to know what’s anti-Semitic.

“Just like he’s got more experience of winning general elections than Mandelson.”

Labour peer and former transport secretary Andrew Adonis has called on Mr McCluskey to resign and tweeted: “Len McCluskey’s vile personal remarks on Newsnight just now sum up the moral as much as the political bankruptcy of the Corbyn far-left project.

“If Len McCluskey doesn’t realise that ‘count his gold’ is one of the oldest antisemitic tropes in the whole of history, he was born yesterday.”

The programme said Mr McCluskey, who is due to stand down in 2022, maintained that the language was not anti-Semitic.

A statement from Unite, read out on the programme, said: “Mr Mandelson’s religion was not relevant to the comments made by Mr McCluskey.

“Indeed, to the best of our knowledge Mr Mandelson is not Jewish.

“The ordinary meaning of the statement made by Mr McCluskey is one of his belief that in recent years Mr Mandelson has had more interest in increasing his own wealth than in fighting for social justice for working class people.

“The suggestion of any anti-Semitic meaning to the commentary would be ludicrous.”

Mr McCluskey tweeted at 12.30am this morning: “Before this gets out of hand, let me say language is important and I apologise to Peter Mandelson and anyone else if mine has caused hurt.”

The Equalities and Human Rights Commission launched an investigation into allegations of antisemitism within the Labour Party in May 2019. The equalities watchdog is expected to publish their report soon.


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