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Former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker plans one-woman Edinburgh Fringe show

Campaigners against antisemitism have called the plan to take the show to Labour's party conference "shameful".

Labour campaigners against antisemitism have criticised controversial Momentum member Jackie Walker’s plans to hold a one-woman Edinburgh Fringe show.

Walker’s show, The Lynching, is the “horrific tale” of what happened to her after Labour was enveloped in an antisemitism row, according to the press release. The former Momentum vice-chair is quoted saying she was “demonised” by the media and received “disgusting” abuse online. She adds: “This show is my chance to tell my side of the story.”

As well as the Edinburgh Fringe, she plans to hold a performance in Brighton to coincide with the Labour party conference. It is not part of the party conference programme or Momentum's conference, The World Transformed.

A spokeswoman from the Jewish Labour Movement called the show “shameful”. 

Walker, born to a Jamaican mother and a Russian Jewish father, was first suspended from the Labour Party in May 2016 after she described Jews as the “chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade” on Facebook.

She was later reinstated, but caused a second controversy at Momentum's The World Transformed conference, when she claimed an anti-Jeremy Corbyn media had turned antisemitism into a “weapon of political mass destruction”. She also suggested Holocaust Memorial Day did not commemorate victims of other genocides (it does), and questioned the need for security at Jewish schools.

In the aftermath of her comments, Walker was suspended again from the Labour Party and stripped of her senior position in Momentum

A Jewish Labour Movement spokeswoman described the show as a “fringe meeting” on “the fringes of the fringe with no support from anybody of any relevance at all”.  

She added: “This is a shameful doubling down on the politics of hatred and division whilst she is already the subject of a serious disciplinary investigation.  

“To claim that she is the victim of a lynching is to compare Jews and others who oppose antisemitism to racist gangs who hanged black people from trees. We hope that this point will not be lost on Labour officials investigating her.”

Mike Katz, Jewish Labour’s vice-chair, said it was “high time” the party changed its rules to deal more effectively with hate speech. He added: “We need to make it absolutely clear that the party has zero tolerance of all hate, and that every minority community can feel at home in Labour.”

Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, described the show as “disingenuous”. He added: “Many of us regularly criticise the Israeli government, we just manage to do it without resorting to antisemitic tropes.”

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “Jackie Walker remains suspended from the Labour party.” 

Update: 18.07.17

Walker said: "I was disappointed but not surprised at the reporting of my suspension from the Labour party in this article. To hear a fuller and more accurate version of my comments, please visit Electronic Intifada or Jews For Justice For The Palestinians."

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.