Zero evidence from Andrew Rawnsley

3 Mar

Had there been a scintilla of residual doubt on the matter, and there wasn’t, Andrew Rawnsley’s references in today’s Guardian Opinion to ‘Labour moderates’ would have erased it. That piece – Labour’s balance of terror has shifted. Now Corbynites have cause to be fearful – is a minor acid attack within the wider1 Antisemites-Under-The-Beds witch trials hosted in the name of progressive values, yet clearly aimed at removing Jeremy Corbyn2 and returning the party to what it pleases Mr Rawnsley to think of as sanity.

Labour ‘moderate’ Siobhain McDonagh on BBC Radio 4 today: to be anticapitalist is to be antisemitic

That sanity being, of course, support for wars of imperial aggression led by the USA … free pass to Israel to do as it damn well likes in Gaza, West Bank and Golan … lethal but lucrative arms sales to Saudi Arabia … making the 99% pay for casino capitalism under cover of austerity and employer flexibility – and much more in the same vein. As a recent below the line comment to an OffGuardian post put it

Indeed, it’s a measure of the moral insanity of mainstream media dialogue that a world of wars in the name of humanitarianism, of super-exploitation in the name of a ‘developing’ world, of broadening Western impoverishment in the name of sensible economics – and, now, of Salem standards of justice in the name of fighting racism – comes gift-wrapped as normality; its critics derided as having at best a weak grip on reality, at worst as being Enemies of Decent Values.

Tariq Ali nailed it with his term, the Extreme Centre. For the many pulled into its gravitational field the likes of Mr Corbyn, and for that matter of yours truly, are the ones who look ‘extreme’. Funny old world, innit?

But back to Rawnsley. In a piece of wishful thinking devoted to talking up “the resurgence of Tom Watson”, these words in particular caught my eye:

… we can also add the poison of antisemitism that has entered Labour’s bloodstream on his watch. The party did not have this problem under Ed Miliband, Gordon Brown or Tony Blair. Three very different kinds of Labour leader; none presided over a party hosting the most vile manifestations of antisemitism. The party has only been polluted with anti-Jewish racism since Mr Corbyn and his allies were given the keys to the Labour house and took responsibility for what kind of person is allowed to live there.

Three claims here.3 One is of the poison of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Another (implied) is that it is higher there than other forms of racism, higher than in the general public and higher than in the Tory or Lib Dem Parties. The third being that antisemitism has soared (presumably, for the claim to escape tautology, faster than the membership has) under Corbyn’s leadership.

Naturally, so heavyweight and respected a pundit as Rawnsley will have supplied a plethora of evidence in support of these claims. It’s just that I can’t for the life of me see where he hid it.


Postscript, March 5. Yesterday, one day after I posted the above, the Guardian ran a similarly lightweight piece on antisemitism within Labour, this one by Jon Harris. As with Rawnsley, that comment-is-free-but-facts-are-sacred paper chose not to open this piece – The unanswered question: why do antisemites think Labour is the party for them? – for comment. But Harris, unlike Rawnsley, writes occasionally from a leftish perspective. Not yesterday though.

The same day, Jonathan Cook penned a response to Harris far more detailed than my own to Rawnsley. Posing the question – why has a man known for well informed writings abandoned all pretence of factuality here? – Cook writes:

It is easy – and lazy – to accuse those who peddle these distortions of acting solely in bad faith. But speaking as someone who was himself once deeply immersed as a journalist in the corporate culture of the Guardian, I know how simple it is from within that culture to fail to scrutinise one’s most fundamental and cherished assumptions. In fact, it’s often a requirement for remaining employed.

Well said. I also find myself arguing on two fronts. One is with those who see corporate media – especially ‘liberal’ brands like the Guardian – as flawed but nonetheless committed to honest journalism. It isn’t. It really, really isn’t; not in things that truly matter to our ruling class.

The other is with those who’ve correctly recognised the extent of the mendacity of such media, but drawn the conclusion, IMO incorrect, that most journalists are liars, a conclusion often aired in colourful and at times misogynistic terms, with ‘presstitutes’ and ‘whores’ among the clichés of choice.

Cook’s piece is well worth reading in light of both disputes. For further reading on systemic bias arising from the political economy of ‘our’ media, I suggest Herman and Chomsky’s now classic, Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media.

* * *

  1. I really do mean wider. This phenomenon – Israeli hasbara in bed with opponents of those critical of neoliberal ‘austerity’ – can be seen in the use of a deeply flawed IHRA as stick for beating Corbyn, in the outlawing of BDS by most US States, in the treatment of Senator Omar and in denunciations of les gilet jaunes.
  2. I say “clearly aimed at” removing Corbyn as the only plausible interpretation of what is happening. The Jewish Voice for Labour article I quoted in my post, Labour’s Enemy Within, followed a useful overview of the [paucity of] evidence for the antisemitism-within-Labour charges with this inescapable conclusion: ‘If the facts are at such odds with the accounts of leading politicians and mainstream media, there can be only one explanation: these accounts are driven by ulterior political agendas’.
  3. A fourth claim – that Miliband, Brown and Blair marked “very different kinds of Labour leader” – says more about what I’ve elsewhere described as the slit-window view on the world offered by corporate media than it does about the true extent of differences between these three leaders. And I’ll let pass the patrician contempt of ‘Corbyn and his allies [being] given keys to the Labour house and [taking] responsibility for what kind of person is allowed to live there’. Sufficent unto the day, as the sermon has it, is the evil thereof.

2 Replies to “Zero evidence from Andrew Rawnsley

  1. One of the most obvious manifestations of anti-semitism is the insults and disgusting reversal of truths in the assault against non Zionist Jews (the majority) from the Pro Apartheid Israeli Zionist Lobby Extremists, in which they describe these decent Jews who will not conform to the extremist ideology as “self hating Jews”, “non-jews” “traitors to Judaism” and every other discriminatory label they can apply. This kind of anti-semitism is tolerable as long as it is not coming from the “left” or Corbyn. Strange though, that much of the pseudo Left does not recognize this obvious example of Anti-Semitism and totally ignores the rise of Islamaphobia. Such “socialists” are about as far removed from Marx’s core beliefs as you could get and are turning socialism into fascism.

    Imagine if Britain had lost the war and it was occupied by the Bosch. Having murdered thousands and ethnically cleansed much of Britain’s countryside they then went on to move German settlers into Britains lands. There would be some Brits who would be resistance fighters and some would be obsequious collaborators (like certain elements today are showing themselves to be) licking Jerry’s boots and offering to kiss their arses (or whatever else would please their masters). The resistance would be arming themselves in order to fight the occupation, represented by these worms as “terrorists” for – well, resisting the occupation and the British workers would be beasts and their children little snakes and the snivelling US would be profiteering at the expense of the British poor, pretty much as they do now. The Bosch colaborators, naturally, would be trousering any and all favours bestowed on them for their “loyalty”. Of course, all people of colour, all ethnics including Moslems and Jews, all the disabled and mentally challenged would be exterminated. Brits, naturally would have no human rights as befits their indigent status.

    But what the heck, we live in a world of double standards and hypocrisy anyway, so we might as well acknowledge the Zionist Extremists as the Superior Beings, after all, they did escape Germany leaving working class non Zionist Jews to foot the bill back then and they are doing the same thing now.

    • Let me pick up on two points in your first paragraph, Susan. One, this situation is indeed rich in irony. Besides the one you identify – the antisemitic denunciations by pro Israeli Jews of their Jewish critics – there’s another. Right wing Labour forces have failed in their previous efforts to oust Corbyn (tepidity on bombing the middle east, reluctance to hit the nuke button, shooting terrorists for Laura, IRA-funeral-gate, shared-platform-with-Hamas-gate, Virgin-Train-gate and execrable-cardigans-gate) have found their most promising line of attack so far. That is itself an irony given how low down the list of most people’s priorities a confected soaring of Labour antisemitism ranks. But there’s a darker irony. Those right wing forces, in their demands to stand up to an equally fictitious Russian aggression, cheered on the Maidan Square coup. Want to know what real antisemitism looks like? Try the government that coup installed in Kiev.

      The other is a Labour Left (Corbyn included, it has to be said) rolling over for the new McCarthyism. Jewish Voice for Labour has sure put Momentum – did you see that dire video? – to shame on this.

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