Having been on the receiving end of much adverse comment for pointing out that the Labour Party lost a previously safe council seat in Sheffield not long after Jeremy Corbyn had addressed a rally of thousands of supporters in the city, I was wary of returning to the less than General Election winning level of his popularity, or the equally less than totally competent level of his leadership, but today needs must.
Labour, and especially Corbyn, have faced accusations of anti-Semitism almost from the moment he was elected as party leader. Yes, I know much of the criticism is without substance, that Jezza is on good terms with Jewish groups in his own constituency and elsewhere, and that the party has acted swiftly - while still demonstrating due process - over accusations of anti-Semitic behaviour among its membership. That is not disputed.
The problem is one of impression: another in the category of “It looks bad”. The hosting of those representing, or close to, groups like Hezbollah and Hamas. The dreadful timing of announcing Shami Chakrabarti’s nomination for a peerage. The suspension of Labour donor Michael Foster (although Foster comparing parts of the Labour Party to Nazi Brownshirts was as deserving of suspension as any).
These acts either look bad, or in the case of Foster, are easily made to look bad by a hostile press. But then, along came an ideal opportunity to dispel all the claims of anti-Semitism and show support for both a Palestinian state - and Israel. Isaac Herzog, leader of the Israeli Labour Party, invited Corbyn to visit his country, and more specifically, the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem. So what did Corbyn do?
He took several weeks to reply. And then turned it down.
I know, I know, the excuses are already being readied, I’m once more going to be shouted down as a Blairite shill, a Murdoch collaborator, there will be more of “I used to like your stuff BUT”, and calls of “Turncoat”. All are awaited. And all will make no difference.
The Guardian’s report - and remember, Corbyn fans, you will get no more favourable coverage than in that paper - tells “Labour sources confirmed he had said existing commitments made it impossible to go and he would send deputy leader Tom Watson or general secretary Iain McNicol in November”. And to that I say baloney.
Jeremy Corbyn could, and should, have cleared his diary so that he could go. At once he and his team would have the ideal counter to the hostile press. The hostility would not cease - hell will freeze over first - but the corrosive and constant suggestion of anti-Semitism would have been shown to be the falsehood that we know it to be.
Instead, those hostile to Corbyn’s leadership, along with their press pals, will have another field day. The poll numbers will get worse. The likelihood of Labour gaining power will recede yet further into the distance. And all that will be heard is that it’s someone else’s fault, that he’s sticking to his principles, everyone not in agreement has something wrong with them, and, look, there are lots of people going to his rallies.
This is another seriously bad move by Jeremy Corbyn. But nobody is listening.