By United with Israel Staff
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite the Union, a British and Irish trade union with over a million members, apologized to a Jewish banker for saying he should “just go into a room and count his gold.”
The comment, made Monday in an interview with the BBC, was aimed at Lord Peter Mandelson, a former Labour politician who reportedly had criticized Labour party leader Keir Starmer.
Mandelson, a Labour politician, was a leading adviser to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a member of the British House of Commons, and business secretary under Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Starmer, widely considered a centrist, replaced Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader in April 2020. Corbyn has been labeled an anti-Semite by prominent British Jews, including Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvus, as well as by Israeli politicians.
“I stopped listening to anything Peter Mandelson says years ago. I would suggest Peter goes into a room and counts his gold and not worry about the Labour Party. Leave that to those of us who are interested in ordinary working people,” McCluskey told the BBC.
McCluskey made the offensive remark in response to BBC presenter Lewis Goodall, who said that Mandelson had been “nothing but full of praise for Keir Starmer” when interviewed by him, according to TheJC.com.
Labour Against Antisemitism and the Board of Deputies of British Jews slammed McCluskey for using an “anti-Semitic trope.”
“Before this gets out of hand, let me say language is important and I apologize to Peter Mandelson and anyone else if mine has caused hurt,” McCluskey said in an apology, apparently following backlash.
Unite the Union issued a statement, saying, “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 fighting for justice for working class people. The suggestion of any anti-Semitic meaning to the commentary would be ludicrous.”
According to TheJC, Mandelson’s father was Jewish; his grandfather founded the Harrow United Synagogue.