A senior Labour politician changed the lyrics of the Beatles song “Hey Jude” to “Hey Jews” while his MP colleague repeatedly used the word “poof” during a late-night bus journey last year, BuzzFeed News can reveal.
Dan Carden, who is a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn's and serves in his shadow Cabinet as the shadow international development secretary, sang the adapted version of the song while on a raucous coach trip back from Cheltenham festival. At the time he was a junior shadow minister.
Conor McGinn, a former Labour whip who is now reportedly considering standing for the party’s deputy leadership after Tom Watson quit this week, repeatedly branded another colleague a “poof”.
The incident happened on the evening of Thursday, March 15, 2018. This reporter was sitting behind Carden and McGinn on a private bus back to London from Cheltenham races. Also present were other Labour MPs as well as MPs from other parties.
As he and Labour colleagues played music from their phones throughout the two-and-a-half-hour ride back to the capital, Carden — a lifelong campaigner on equalities issues — repeatedly sang the chorus of “Hey Jude”, replacing the word “Jude” with “Jews”.
When the chorus reached the word “Jude”, Carden chanted at the top of his voice: “Jews, Jews, Jews”.
Seven days before Cheltenham, Labour was forced to suspend several of its members who had posted anti-Semitic remarks online in what was a major news story at the time.
Ten days after the bus ride, Carden tweeted: “Jeremy Corbyn has committed his entire life to fighting all forms of racism and fascism - & under his leadership there is no place for anti-semitism in the Labour Party.”
Carden’s spokesperson did not deny any of the specifics of the night in question when approached by BuzzFeed News. They insisted that he would never “intentionally” engage in racist or anti-Semitic behaviour.
McGinn was sitting next to another male Labour colleague, who was tired from the day’s events and spent much of the coach journey asleep.
Several times during the journey, McGinn’s colleague slumped onto him across their seats. McGinn responded by loudly telling his friend to get off him, calling him a “poof”. McGinn repeatedly used the word to describe his colleague throughout the journey.
McGinn’s spokesperson did not deny that he used the slur but defended his record on LGBT issues.
BuzzFeed News is choosing to publish this story following fresh anti-Semitism allegations against Labour candidates over the last 48 hours and in light of McGinn’s tilt at the second top job in Labour. MPs and journalists are occasionally recipients of hospitality trips to sporting events.
A spokesperson for Carden said: “Daniel Carden has been a committed campaigner in support of LGBT rights and against all forms of racism and hatred, his entire political life. As a homosexual man he would never intentionally engage in homophobic, racist or anti-Semitic behaviour. Had there been genuine concerns as to Daniel’s behaviour then those concerns should have been raised at the time rather than some 20 months later on the eve of a general election.”
A spokesperson for McGinn said: “Conor’s record as a staunch supporter of the LGBT community speaks for itself. As an MP he led the campaign which delivered a monumental and historic change in the law to finally extend equal marriage to the whole of the UK.”