Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Wednesday 5 September 2018

IHRA - Labour Critics Score Own Goal

Yesterday, the Labour Party’s NEC accepted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, together with all its accompanying examples. And, as I’ve previously suggested, the party’s critics were not placated. They did not so much as miss a beat. Perhaps they had already made their minds up.
As the BBC has reported, “Labour Against Anti-Semitism said ‘We are disappointed by the decision of Labour's governing body, the NEC, to diminish the IHRA working definition of anti-Semitism via the attachment of a “clarification” that risks giving racists in the party a get-out-of-jail card’”, while Labour Friends of Israel added “A freedom of expression on Israel clause is unnecessary and totally undermines the other examples the party has supposedly just adopted”. They were not the only critics.
The Jewish Leadership Council said this addition would ‘drive a coach and horses’ through the IHRA definition”. There is, though, a teensy problem with that argument.

If the clarification adopted along with the IHRA definition and examples waters down the latter merely by stating “this does not in any way undermine the freedom of expression on Israel and the rights of Palestinians”, then something in the IHRA definition and examples must be considered to undermine that freedom of expression. Or, put more directly, Oh What A Giveaway.
Moreover, LFI has let slip what the critics’ real agenda is, and it isn’t anti-Semitism. “This decision is a sad reflection on Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party” was its conclusion. It’s about removing Jezza, as it still was for Margaret Hodge. But the Labour leader is massively popular with the party membership, and he is going nowhere.
So it was not surprising to see Mike Segalov take issue with Ms Hodge’s continued complaints: “Please stop. You are doing the Jewish community no favours. Those of us who are genuinely committed to fighting antisemitism from all sides of [the] party are not helped by this. Even the Home Affairs Select Committee agreed clarification is needed. Let us crack on now, thanks”. Others wanted to move on, too.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown saw through the personal nature of much of the criticism: “nothing will placate the enemies of Corbyn. Only his head on a plate. Really depressing”. And Tom London put it directly: “Jeremy Corbyn is NOT an anti-Semite …  He does NOT condone antisemitism … He is no more an existential threat than the moon”.

Those railing agains yesterday’s decision scored a further own goal by making it about Corbyn personally. Worse, protesters draping themselves in the Israeli flag confirmed that it was not about anti-Semitism, but criticism of Israel.
The sad reality is that no matter how far the Labour leadership bends over backwards to address criticism, it will never be enough for those who want Corbyn removed, and debate on Palestine shut down. But with the latest Survation poll - from the people who called the 2017 General Election most accurately - showing a four point Labour lead, it is clear that the public is becoming tired of this whole business.

Protests may continue. But the show will have moved on. I’ll just leave that one there.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at


Ceiliog said...

If the clarification provides the means whereby anti-Semitic statements can be published or broadcast without falling foul of rules, critics should send examples for independent lawyers to see if they are valid claims.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

When all one's eggs are in the same basket, it's odds on one over-eggs the pudding.

And that is what Tim's post does.

All and sundry should resort, forthwith, to what the Home Affairs Select Committee declared on the IHRA and EUMC definition of antisemitism. If that's too great a stretch, focus on paragraphs 23 to 25 (they come suitably emphasised in the text).

If even that overtaxes the understanding, there's the two caveats in para 24:
It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.

If the NEC and the leadership (what's the term for a one-word 'oxymoron'?) had copied that, and applied it to disciplinary matters months ago, all of this could have been avoided. That, in short, is what happened yesterday, too late and too mealy-mouthed.

So we are down to the document acquired by Robert Peston, particularly:
... it cannot be considered racist to treat Israel like any other state or assess its conduct against the standards of international law. Nor should it be regarded as antisemitic to describe Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist ...

Huh? Does that apply to the Partition Plan of 29 November 1947? Should we double-think the Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi attempt to 'drive the jews into the sea'?

Perhaps we need to hear from the Beloved Leader, or (as on this thread) his mouthpiece what the alternative history of 1948 is supposed to be.

Bob said...

Labour party members prior to Corbyn leadership 190,000.
Labour party members latest count 575,000.
In terms of membership numbers it is now the largest political party in Western Europe.

For years too many in the PLP largely ignored or rode roughshod over the Constituency members, except for when they needed their help to get them re-elected. That is now changing and for some MP’s they are faced with a choice: Work to get Corbyn out or work towards the good of a true Labour party.
A few like Frank Field have already made their choice as had his CLP: https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/labour-members-move-to-suspend-brexiteer-mp-frank-field-for-backing-tories-birkenhead-labour-party_uk_5b59b0ebe4b0de86f493f2e3

Anonymous said...

Malcolm Redfellow at 11:53.

There's only one thing wrong with your "comment": It's all sophist bullshit, as is the whole "antisemitism" right wing propaganda.

While you and others like you argue an absurd form of words, the fact remains that Jeremy Corbyn is NOT and never has been antisemitic (see what I did there? You know, a form of words taken exactly from the insane US McCarthy era) and the number of antisemites in the Labour Party is miniscule compared to elsewhere.

Nor have you or anybody like you ever provided proof of "widespread antisemitism" in the party or the leadership. Nor does your pejorative use of "beloved leader" quite come off. You fool nobody.

There is a much more corporeal concern in the world and it is this: The Israeli government has instituted a political system with all the sinister symptoms of fascist organisation in its treatment of innocent Palestinians. These include mass murder, the transformation of Gaza into a giant concentration camp and the use of what amounts to a racist identity system. The Labour Party would betray its founding principles if it tried to ignore that horror.

The Labour Party will find and root out any of its members who are guilty of antisemitism. But what will people like you do when that move is completed? My bet is you move on to some other use of weasel words, some other attempt to undermine a thoroughly decent and honest man who has spent his entire time in politics fighting racism, fascism and the remnants of imperialism.

The moment Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader I forecast what would happen. I knew what the propaganda would be from red tory quislings. Well, here it is in all its dishonesty, tenth rate wheedling and disgusting hypocrisy. Example, yesterday a less-lard Watson said, "This is the beginning of a process" - which probably means further right wing attempts to undermine the leadership, not the beginning of the end of the "antisemitism" bullshit. This is unsurprising given past and current behaviour of the warmongering Blair/Brown gang. It's so predictable it's even possible to write the script for the propaganda unit at Newsshite and all the other media jobsworths.

Fortunately this time the current Labour Party membership is organised and determined enough to fight back against the odds. Fortunately social media has enabled enough people to recognise and publicly identify the corruption of the last four decades. THIS time there is increasing widespread understanding of the sheer rottenness inflicted on the world, of which the fake "issue" of "widespread antisemitism in Labour" is but one symptom. The disgusting policies of the Israeli government are another. All the weasel words and propaganda of corporate media will be useless. The change is irreversible.

But I don't expect people like you to understand any of that.

J said...

"If they don't think there is enought in the definition that allows people to criticise the Israeli government they can add those clauses" - Dame Margaret Hodge 24th July 2018

"Two steps forward and one step back. Why dilute the welcome adoption IN FULL of the #IHRA definition of #Antisemitism with an unnecessary qualification?" - Dame Margaret Hodge 4 Sept 2018

Its almost as if nothing will be good enough and that the issue is getting rid of Corbyn... oh, wait what!

Malcolm Redfellow said...

@ Bob (12:24)

The membership was over a million in 1952. It didn't prevent losing General Elections in 1955 and 1959 — and a close-run thing in 1964..

Apart from which, how relevant is such sniping to the main event? Lest we forget, the PLP — under its present much-celebrated 'successful' leadership — is now smaller than was returned after the 'failure' of the 2010 Election.

Oddly enough, I rather enjoy seeing Labour win elections.

Andy McDonald said...

Malcolm, you're missing the fact that this is Bob, AKA anonymous, AKA Alan Clifford, who has dutifully copied and pasted the same rant onto every post this blog has made for the last few years. Once memorably condemning Bake Off.

Churchill's comments about one who won't change the subject or their mind seem a bit relevant.

Anonymous said...

A man for whom the entire world is 'far-right'...

Bob said...

Just noticed the replies to my post from Malcolm Redfellow and Andy McDonald. I feel compelled to reply, however late.

Malcolm - I was not ‘sniping’ but making the point that the two resounding elections of Jeremy Corbyn have transformed the membership not only in numbers but actual involvement in shaping the future direction of the party. Your membership numbers from past generations need to be analysed as to why so many have become disaffected. Interesting though.

Andy – these are my thoughts, not those of the aliases you name. I have never watched Bake Off.