After the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee published its report on anti-Semitism in UK politics, and paid particular attention to allegations that this was rife in the Labour Party, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre went into rant overdrive: today’s Daily Mail Comment, the authentic voice of the Vagina Monologue, thunders “Bigotry runs through Labour like a virus”. That’s the Daily Mail calling bigotry on others.
It gets worse: “the party that crusades under a banner of fairness and equality is revealed to have anti-Semitism running through it like a virus - and Jeremy Corbyn himself is blamed for an utter failure to tackle it … Be in no doubt, the language of the Home Affairs Select Committee - which has Labour as well as Tory members - was savage and its verdict unanimous”. And then Dacre veers over the dishonesty line.
“It brands Labour as 'institutionally anti-Semitic', saying it provides a home for people with 'vile attitudes' towards Jews”. So, as Cilla might have said, shall we have a look and find out? Paragraphs 113 to 119 are the conclusions on the Labour Party (HERE).
This is one: “but we believe that [Corbyn’s] lack of consistent leadership on this issue, and his reluctance to separate antisemitism from other forms of racism, has created what some have referred to as a ‘safe space’ for those with vile attitudes towards Jewish people”. That is not what the Mail is claiming. Nor is “The failure of the Labour Party to deal consistently and effectively with antisemitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally antisemitic”.
What the Mail has also ignored is the paragraph that comes immediately after its seven paragraphs of judgmental stuff about Labour. Paragraph 120 states “Despite significant press and public attention on the Labour Party, and a number of revelations regarding inappropriate social media content, there exists no reliable, empirical evidence to support the notion that there is a higher prevalence of antisemitic attitudes within the Labour Party than any other political party”. Well, well. And there’s more.
“We are unaware whether efforts to identify antisemitic social media content within the Labour Party were applied equally to members and activists from other political parties, and we are not aware of any polls exploring antisemitic attitudes among political party members, either within or outside the Labour Party”.
And it gets worse still: at the very start of the report’s coverage of Labour (paragraph 95) we find “On 26 April 2016, the political blog Guido Fawkes published a screenshot of three Facebook posts shared by Naz Shah, Labour MP for Bradford West, in 2014”. This supposedly authoritative report cites the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble as a reliable source. R-i-i-i-ght. The same rabble who have serious anti-Semitic form.
This is what the Fawkes blog’s PMQs sketch from the 16th July 2014 told, on the subject of Cameron v Miliband: “Every week Cameron looks easier, calmer, more in control of his party, his policy and his election plan - and every week his opponent dances at the despatch box like a spastic marionette … Ed kept asking, his convulsive string master taking another swig of the meths”. Marionette. Puppet-master. Anti-Semitic tropes.
It was not an isolated occurrence: the following January, another attack on Miliband observed “Miliband is no Messiah. Pious, yes. Other-worldly, yes. Crucifixion-material, yes”. “Other-worldly”. “Crucifixion material”. And there is The Great Guido being held up as a reliable witness by a Parliamentary committee discussing … anti-Semitism.
You really could not make this up. And it gets yet worse: there is the Daily Mail, ranting about bigotry and claiming Labour has “anti-Semitism running through it like a virus”, yet when it was Ed Miliband leading the party, there was not only no constant suggestion that the party had a problem with anti-Semitism - the Mail was indulging in it itself!
Zelo Street regulars will recall the Mail’s vicious attack on Miliband’s late father Ralph, which resulted in the then Labour leader demanding the right of reply. On the day that Miliband’s reply was published, the Mail not only re-ran the original attack, but backed it up with a new editorial which made many Jewish voices distinctly uneasy.
This was the offending passage: “We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons. But when a son with prime ministerial ambitions swallows his father’s teachings, as the younger Miliband appears to have done, the case is different”. The Jewish Chronicle mused that there was a “whiff of anti-Semitism” about that. Other Jewish voices registered their disquiet.
The Mail was then in the vanguard of using “Moses” stereotypes to mock Miliband over the so-called “pledge stone” in the run-up to last year’s General Election. Although the Telegraph also used the “Moses” reference, it was the Mail that mocked up Miliband’s face with a substantial beard, not of course that this is an anti-Semitic trope, you understand.
All of which makes one wonder not merely about the Mail’s stinking hypocrisy on the subject of anti-Semitism, but also the utility of a Parliamentary Committee report that rants at length at the Labour Party before conceding that there is no evidence to show that anti-Semitism is more prevalent there than in other parties, and that they had made no effort to investigate incidents of anti-Semitism in other parties.
As to citing the Fawkes rabble as a reliable source, one hates to have to point this out, but that alone should have had the report consigned to the shredder. The Mail also has no room to get righteous. It’s a serious subject, and to report it in such a selective and partial way does nobody any favours.