Iconic filmmaker and long-time supporter of the Palestinian people Ken Loach has been expelled by the UK Labour Party. The veteran director announced his expulsion on his Twitter account on Saturday to the shock and dismay of his many thousands of followers.
"Labour HQ finally decided I'm not fit to be a member of their party," said Loach, claiming that it was his refusal to "disown those already expelled" which prompted his eviction. Loach was referring to reports last month that Labour leader Keir Starmer was preparing to purge several groups who are vocal supporters of the Palestinian cause and former leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In his tweet over the weekend, Loach who has been targeted by pro-Israel groups over recent years also hit out at what has been slammed as a "witch hunt" by Starmer. The Labour leader is on record saying that he "supports Zionism without qualification."
"I am proud to stand with the good friends and comrades victimised by the purge. There is indeed a witch hunt," said Loach adding "Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people".
'Starmer and his clique will never lead a party of the people. We are many, they are few. Solidarity.' KL
— Ken Loach & Sixteen Films (@KenLoachSixteen) August 14, 2021
Fellow Labour MPs and well-known public figures expressed their solidarity with Loach, whose highly acclaimed movies deal with social injustice and poverty.
"It's shameful that the Labour Party welcomes back the likes of Trevor Phillips, a man who's made a string of deeply Islamophobic remarks, but expels Ken Loach, a renowned filmmaker whose art gives voice to the impoverished and oppressed," said Zarah Sultana MP following the dismissal of the 85-year-old. News of Phillips' reinstatement last month sparked outrage. Critics accused Labour of becoming a party that tolerated casual racism towards Muslims.
It's shameful that the Labour Party welcomes back the likes of Trevor Phillips, a man who's made a string of deeply Islamophobic remarks, but expels Ken Loach, a renowned filmmaker whose art gives voice to the impoverished and oppressed.
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) August 14, 2021
Renowned professor of economics Yanis Varoufakis also came to Loach's defence. "I just heard that Keir Starmer expelled Ken Loach from the Labour Party." said the 60-year-old. "I hope this is fake news. If not, all he managed is to expel Labour's soul, leaving behind an arid, soulless Labour Party – one that is even poorer than under Blair and his fellow war criminals".
I just heard that Kier Starmer expelled Ken Loach from the Labour Party. I hope this is fake news. If not, all he managed is to expel Labour's soul, leaving behind an arid, soulless Labour Party – one that is even poorer than under Blair and his fellow war criminals.
— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) August 14, 2021
With NATO forces in retreat from Afghanistan, Varoufakis' reference to Tony Blair appears as though it was intended to remind people of the former Labour leader's role in the invasion of Afghanistan. Blair was one of the main architects of the decades-long "war on terror" which produced two of the biggest foreign policy disasters in British history.
Making his case for the invasion of Afghanistan during the Labour party conference in 2001, Blair said: "To the Afghan people we make this commitment. The conflict will not be the end. We will not walk away, as the outside world has done so many times before."
Blair's name being mentioned in this context also comes as Starmer calls on his party to embrace the legacy of the former leader who also served as an envoy for the Quartet on the Middle East established in 2002 to facilitate negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Blair has been the Quartet's longest-serving envoy. His period in office between 2007 and 2015 is widely seen as a miserable failure.