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Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Labour Anti-Semitism - We Have To Talk

After yesterday evening’s Commons debate on anti-Semitism, a number of voices from across the political spectrum have been actively spinning the subject to promote their own political ends. This is wrong, no matter whether one is on the left or right. Anti-Semitism, and indeed any form of racism, is not a subject to be spun for party political advantage. But it is a subject that should be take seriously.
So let’s consider what the situation is, and what we can deduce from that. We should usefully start at the very beginning, as it’s a very good place to start.

One, some within the Labour Party have behaved in a plainly and sometimes blatantly anti-Semitic manner. That is inexcusable, and nor is it a matter for debate. It has happened, and action must be taken to prevent its recurrence.

Two, the Labour leadership has acknowledged that it has happened, and has committed itself to eradicating the problem. Jeremy Corbyn has made that commitment, and the party’s new General Secretary Jennie Formby has committed to executing the policy.
Three, there is no reason - none whatsoever - to doubt the leadership’s commitment or to dismiss that commitment out of hand. Those on the fringes of politics engaging in such dismissive behaviour demonstrate only their absence of credibility and character.

Four, there is no reason why any Labour MP should not state publicly that they have been the target of anti-Semitic attacks, and nor is there any reason why they should not have joined the protest outside Parliament recently. Those MPs were free to make that choice; Corbyn endorsed their choice, and Ms Formby has underscored that endorsement.
Five, there is no place in this debate for comparative dismissal of some complaints of anti-Semitic behaviour: if the likes of Ruth Smeeth point out that they have been the targets of that behaviour in the past, it is not acceptable to say “yes but she once got something wrong”. Dismissing anti-Semitism in that manner cannot be allowed to stand.

Six, the greater determination indicated by Ms Formby to deal with outstanding complaints of anti-Semitism will mean that some Labour members will be reprimanded or dismissed from the party altogether. That, too, should not be made the subject of “yes, but” protests.
Seven, no-one should be above this particular law: if the likes of Ken Livingstone are judged to have behaved badly enough to warrant dismissal, then there should be no exception made for him, or anyone else. Out should mean out.

So far, so straightforward. Now we come to other parties, the wider question of racism, and indeed other forms of discrimination and prejudice.

Eight, that Labour has admitted that the party has had a problem with anti-Semitism does not mean that no other party is thus affected. So that leads us to one conclusion.
Nine, the likes of Nadine Dorries, who compared a Jewish former MP to a Nazi concentration camp doctor, should not escape censure. It will be interesting to see how the Tory Party deals with the matter - if it deals with it at all.

Ten, anti-Semitism is not the only form of racism prevalent in Britain today. Therefore, the determination to stamp out racism cannot end with anti-Semitism. Any form of discrimination on the basis of race, colour, religion or culture cannot be allowed to stand.

Eleven, prejudice or discrimination against the LGBTQ community is also unacceptable, and should not be overlooked, merely because it is not racial prejudice. So is sexism and misogyny, which featured strongly in That Spreadsheet (of Tory MPs).
Twelve, it would help immeasurably if the press establishment were to avoid completely the use of nudge-nudgery which is little more than a dog-whistle to racism and other forms of prejudice, merely for the purposes of political or commercial advantage. This has in the recent past included Racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and Xenophobia.

Thirteen, it would ill behove the Tory Party to use the potential dismissal by Labour of Ken Livingstone to excuse the incompetence in office of his successor as London Mayor, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who is himself a vicious and unapologetic racist.

Fourteen, racism also includes Islamophobia and anti-Muslim sentiment. That may not include many MPs, whatever their political stripe, but it certainly includes the press that shills for them. If the Tory Party is serious about the issue of racism, they should both tackle their press pals, and be prepared to call out their blatant prejudice.

Fifteen, don’t even think of calling “racist” on anyone else when you harbour racists and manipulators of racial prejudice in your ranks. Hello Campaign Against Anti-Semitism.
Sixteen, anyone who was using the issue of anti-Semitism just to dump on the Labour Party should hang their heads in shame. This is too serious a problem just to be used as leverage by those seeking cheap political advantage. The Guido Fawkes rabble aren’t capable of such contrition, but, you know, just a thought.

And Seventeen, just as anti-Semitism cannot be an excusable response to the actions of the state of Israel, nor can criticising those actions be inferred to be anti-Semitic.

Labour must tackle anti-Semitism and eradicate the problem within their ranks, however small it might be. So must other parties. All parties and their supporters must tackle all forms of racism. That must extend to other forms of discrimination and prejudice.

Ultimately, though, this will come down to that same old problem: it is easy to make the accusation, less easy to take the necessary action, and not at all easy for those using the problem for their own ends to admit that they are not themselves blameless.

In conclusion, it’s good to see so much effort dedicated to combating anti-Semitism. It’s only sad that the issue wouldn’t even be on the media radar for 99% of the time, and in 99% of the circumstances. And that, media people, is not good enough.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree. And -

Eighteen. New Labour must not use this episode to try to discredit Jeremy Corbyn and promote themselves as holier-than-thou, not after their support for bombing and invading the Middle East.

Nick63 said...

While I agree with you on most other things, Tim (and I actually agree with the general thrust of this piece), I do have one particular issue with this; whilst far from a Labour Party only problem, this is Labour - Corbyn primarily - being forced to look at, and actually deal with, anti-semitism within the Labour Party he now leads.

He asked Shami Chakrabati to investigate the problem when he became leader. Shami reported back to him in June 2016, 22 months ago. The introduction to her report included the following two quotes;
1. "Those who assume leadership or representative positions within the Party..." "...must be trained to, and judged by, an even higher standard than the wider membership."

2. " ask Labour members, regardless of their particular strand or tradition in the Party, to work with these recommendations and put other policy and factional differences aside when race and human rights - and as a result, the reputation of the Labour Party - are on the table. In particular, it is possible to 2 criticise foreign powers (including the State of Israel), without resorting (by accident or design) to inflammatory (rather than persuasive) language. If, as I hope and believe, these recommendations are
fully embraced by the Labour Leadership, I ask everyone in the Party to work with them in good faith. I ask for a moratorium on the retrospective trawling of members' social media accounts and past comments, so as to create the much needed atmosphere and opportunity for learning, positive consensus and progressive change."

In the, almost, 2 years since, things have clearly become worse, not better through a lack of leadership and far too much 'whataboutery' and deflection to other issues. The 'higher standard' in the leadership Shami specifically called for is absent.

D Abbott said...

My mind is made up.

I'll definitely be voting Labour.

Anonymous said...

Ruth Smeeth, who had anti racism campaigner @MarcWads expelled (now suspended pending a hearing) from Labour after she made lying claims about him attacking her with anti semitic conspiracy claims, which he had not? His explanation, a video, his crowdfunding appeal for justice is here.

https://twitter.com/Marcwads/status/968486913991741446

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/justiceforantiracismcampaigner/?utm_source=case_page_social&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=sumo_widget

Ruth Smeeth is virulently anti Corbyn. Possibly because of his support for the people of Palestine?

https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/asa-winstanley/uk-labour-mp-ruth-smeeth-was-funded-israel-lobby

Luciana Berger's troll who was jailed for vile abuse & threats, John Nimmo, was not connected with Labour. And it was Labour supporters who helped track him down I recall.

John Mann, who claimed Ken Livingstone had said Hitler was a Zionist, which he had not?

MP John Mann clashes with Ken Livingstone - BBC News https://youtu.be/GRUTpypkV0I via @YouTube


And the claims he made about Hitler have been supported by a number of high profile Jews? John Mann, who smeared every Momentum supporter as an anti semite yesterday, without any evidence at all?

And lets not forget who was responsible for dealing with cases of alleged antisemitism in Labour, not Corbyn but McNichol. He's gone now, and not before time.

And frankly, vile though all bigotry is, perhaps Corbyn has had to deal with a great deal else and has to prioritise how he spends his time & energies.


D Abbott said...

Caught a glimpse of this Guardian headline
'Morrissey denounces halal meat as 'evil', and attacks May, Khan, Abbott and more'

I can't for the life of me understand why he's grouped Tony Abbott in with May and Khan.

I'm sure he'll probably be voting Labour. Like I will.

Anonymous said...

Nick63
'In the, almost, 2 years since, things have clearly become worse'
Have they? Or has this become a bandwagon which some people who will benefit have been happy to set in motion and happy to jump on.
Among these people, I would say, are:

The Tory party
The Tory press
Mark Regev and the government of Israel

What evidence is there that 'things have clearly become worse'?

Anonymous said...

You think that's bad?

Watch a rerun of tonight's C4 "News" in which Clown-Ties-And-Socks Snow used the Windrush horror to attack Jeremy Corbyn. All of it designed of course to submerge the full on racist horror of Windrush. To confirm it, measure the time given to the former and compare it to the latter.

Sickening doesn't begin to describe this kind of "journalism". Which is of course right wing propaganda at its lowest.

And we STILL haven't heard which "officials" were, according to the gutless Rudd, responsible for conceiving and executing this latest example of institutionalised racism in tory Britain.

What a rotten to the core political and media establishment we suffer in Britain 2018.

Nick63 said...

To Anonymous;
What evidence things have become worse, you ask.
1. Fact of 'enough is enough'protest outside Parliament a couple of weeks ago.
2. Take a look at the list another 'Anonymous' (though it could be you too) has posted in these comments... that he defends the appalling Marc Wadsworth - who's disruption of the presentation of the Chakrabati report to attack Ruth Smeeth actually happened and was allowed to happen with Corbyn on the podium, is evidence enough. And I really don't care what Wadsworth, after the event, defence is. It shouldn't have happened.

Sam Best said...

The Morrisey incident highlights much of the media's mendacity on this subject. Apart from his vile comments about Halal etc his disgusting claim that "Hitler was a socialist" was far worse ( a favorite theme of the Redit loonies) but escaped censure in the media and was only mentioned in passing. Meaning of course Socialists were responsible for the Holocaust (despite most German socialists ending up in Concentration Camps).
You've also failed to mention the intervention of the Board of Deputies who disgracefully politicized this matter (after previously praising Donald Trump who has emboldened millions of racists)to the point one poor woman claimed she feared another Holocaust under Corbyn. To ignore Trump's base which is a vast rump of fanatics who believe in the NWO Rothschild rubbish is wrong. It seeps over into the far-right in the UK.
You can't write these matters off or not mention them in the mix because there are far too many characters stirring this up for partisan reasons.
I also believe that the vast British public may reach a 'turn-off' point on antisemitism believing it only touches on a small minority of Brits.
And that's down to those who have politicized it including the right wing media and goats like the appalling John Mann MP. The Deputies share blame as well.

Anonymous said...

To Nick63.

So you think it's fine for Marc Wadsworth to be lied about? Whatever your personal view of the man, what he said at that launch was not what Ruth Smeeth claimed he said. I can see nothing antisemitic, given he had no idea Ruth Smeeth was a Jew and yes, she had been in discussion with a Telegraph journalist just before the meeting began.

'Mainstream media attacks on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for reportedly... failing to defend a Jewish MP from verbal abuse have been described as ‘deliberate misinterpretations’...

Corbyn has also been condemned for his alleged failure to intervene when ... Marc Wadsworth, along with Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth, was accused of leaking stories to the media.However this too was debunked by Chakrabarti, who told the BBC the Labour leader “backed me up” when she reprimanded the man for his interjection.

“[Corbyn] concurred with me when I admonished the gentleman in question for heckling, not just Ms. Smeeth, but me [also], and for abusing the privilege of asking a question at a national press conference. The leader completely concurred with me and backed me up.

Chakrabarti was then asked about a blog entry written shortly after the incident by Smeeth, in which she said the Labour leader’s office had not been in touch to apologize.

“Well, she wrote that blog as soon as the events happened,” the barrister replied.

“I went to see her that afternoon and I was in the room when she was speaking to someone from the leader’s office.”

The MSM has made much of this incident and its fallout, which includes a formal complaint of anti-Semitism lodged against Corbyn by Jewish Human Rights Watch.

But few outlets have covered the fact that, according to Chakrabarti, Labour has accepted all recommendations to tackle anti-Semitism made by the report ...'

https://www.rt.com/uk/349163-corbyn-antisemitism-isis-israel/

Short of Corbyn tackling him to the ground, what do you suggest he did?

As for Smeeth, she's anti Corbyn, pro Israel. I'm sure you know her employment history.

Nick63 said...

To Anonymous;
"As for Smeeth, she's anti Corbyn, pro Israel."

And the crime here is?

Labour has a problem with anti-semitism. Your comments neatly show why.

Anonymous said...

Since when was pointing out that an MP is pro-Israel anti semitism? It isn't. It's fact. So run along and stop posting tripe.

Corbyn of course supports the people of Palestine and their struggles.

Smeeth doesn't like Corbyn.

Do your research as to where she used to work, and where she has had funding from.

And stop assuming anyone who comments on this is Labour.

Your comments neatly show how confused you are.




Nick63 said...

'And stop assuming anyone who comments on this is Labour'. I rest my case, m'lud...

Anonymous said...

You have no case to rest. No I'm not Labour.

You're big on assertion, not so good at evidence.

Jack Pottinger said...

I'm not saying that there is no anti-Semitism in Labour but there is definitely an element of "over exaggeration" of the issue and sometimes minor misunderstandings being over-escalated.

For example I remember the news making a big deal over "3 anti-Semitism issues at the Labour conference". This was instantly accepted as an unchallengable truth.

BUT Aljazeera had an undercover reporter who accidentally captured the entire thing and all the background conversations that went on.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/israel-lobby-anti-semitism-battle-uk-labour-party-170113073206692.html

The trouble is if this reporter hadn't captured this evidence the accusation would just have been taken as fact. People who try to get to the truth of a matter or defend someone as innocent until proven guilty are tarred with the brush of being a defender of anti-Semitism.

I'm not saying that Ruth Smeeth hasn't received an awful amount of abuse but could it be that some of this is either trolls stirring up trouble, her mis-interpreting hostility to her pronounced dislike of Jeremy Corbyn as being hatred of jews, Actual real anti-semites who are not in or even associated with the party.

If she can provide unequivocal evidence of identifyable memebers of the labour party with a consistant history of anti-Semitism then by all means lets get them out of the party.

The labour party will always act if she can back up her assertions