I don’t write much on the Labour Party1 or antisemitism and when I do it tends to be prompted by their having merged, zionist apologetics finding synergy with Doing For Jezza. Even then it’s usually been because that synergy folded naturally into a piece on Syria – here for instance.
But when on May 13 Shami Chakrabarti took to the Guardian to call for Ken Livingstone to be expelled,2 I might have seen fit to write. I’d no need though. Jonathan Cook set out my views admirably. On May 8, days before she piped up in the Graun chorus, Cook began a post on his blogsite with these words:
Britain’s opposition leader should have plenty on his plate at the moment, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is spending much of his time instead putting out fires as he is attacked from within and without his party for failing to get to grips with a supposed “anti-semitism crisis” besetting Labour.
In late March, leading Jewish groups organised a large “Enough is enough” march on parliament, attended by prominent Labour MPs, to accuse Corbyn of siding with anti-Semites.
In response to the rally, Corbyn issued a statement acknowledging that “anti-semitism has surfaced within the Labour Party,” apologised and promised “to redouble my efforts to bring this anxiety to an end.”
There are no signs that Corbyn’s problems are about to end. On April 17, he had to endure the bizarre spectacle of a parliamentary debate on anti-semitism convened by the Conservative government in which his own backbenchers spent hours lambasting their party and him as leader.
All of this, severely denting Corbyn’s authority and image with the British public, took place just weeks before local council elections that should have been Labour’s chance to seize the initiative from the Conservatives.
Despite plentiful evidence that anti-semitism is a much bigger problem on the right than the left, Labour MP Luciana Berger argued that Jew hatred was an especial problem in Labour. She received a standing ovation. Another MP, Dame Margaret Hodge, argued: “It feels that my party has given permission for antisemitism to go unchallenged. Antisemitism is making me an outsider in my Labour party.”
The same day, a poll indicated that nearly two-thirds of Britons think Labour has a problem with racism and religious bigotry – more than believe the Conservative party is home to such prejudices.
UNDER MEDIA ATTACK
In fact, 18 months earlier, Britain’s parliamentary home affairs committee had found “no reliable, empirical evidence” suggesting Labour had more of an anti-semitism problem than any other political party.
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- I see: (a) no parliamentary road to socialism, nor to any but token mitigation of capitalism’s ravages; (b) Corbyn as a man of rare principle; (c) the huge upsurge in party membership as significant less in its actuality than in the desire for fundamental change it indicates. Membership is certain to plummet if Corbyn’s enemies in the PLP get their way. Since the latter aren’t all stupid, I conclude they know this and deem it a price worth paying. Which says it all, really.
- The day after this post appeared, Jewish anti-zionist blogger Tony Greenstein penned this response to Chakrabarti’s Guardian piece.