At this year’s Labour Party Conference, Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger was snapped walking towards the Echo Arena alongside a Police officer. This image was immediately seized upon by the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate and a number of others as evidence that Labour was in serious trouble. Ms Berger is Jewish, therefore, the established narrative went, Labour had a problem with anti-Semitism.
This was typified by Sun Politics, which told its followers “Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger flanked by police protection at party conference after months of anti-Semitic abuse”. The paper’s deputy political editor Steve Hawkes obediently sneered “John McDonnell attacks the media for attacking Jeremy Corbyn. Nothing as yet about the trolls who force Luciana Berger to turn up to her own conference with a bodyguard”.
Pro-Israel sources also piled in, Stand By Us asserting “Everything you need to know about @jeremycorbyn’s Labour Party: Jewish #UK Labour MP Luciana Berger forced to receive police protection at Labour Party conference in the UK following threats from party members & activists for speaking out against Antisemitism”. Threats from party members? If they were party members, they won’t be now. But there was more.
Julie Lenarz was there to trowel it on: “Jewish Labour MP Luciana Berger needs police protection at the annual party conference simply for being Jewish and her activism against anti-Semitism. This is what Cult Corbyn has done to the country, in living memory of the Holocaust”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.
But some at Conference wondered about the security, one musing “Have walked around the entire conference site since Saturday when Women’s Conference opened. Have not seen a single incident of unfriendliness - well apart from issue of Open Selection vote. Just heard on Ch4 news that Luciana Berger needs 2 bodyguards. *scratches head*”.
Then came one Tweeter who claimed “Luciana Berger DID NOT have a police escort inside the Labour Conference”. What? Jim McCabe also noticed it: “Just noticed Luciana Berger in the conference reception area...with NO police escort”. Do we have a third source? We certainly do: “Just seen Luciana Berger wandering round the Conference Arena without a police escort”. Ms Berger’s security is not a problem inside Conference.
What does this all mean? Well, not being party to Ms Berger’s thoughts, one has to make the occasional inference, but this is what it looks like to me. Let’s spell it out.
One, Ms Berger has been the subject of a series of threats from those not connected with the Labour Party. One of those was anti-Semite Joshua Bonehill Paine, who was sent to jail for his trouble. Another came from Jewish activists who did not like the idea that she was remaining inside the Labour Party (see HERE and HERE)).
Two, the photos being circulated by press outlets and others were taken outside the Conference secure area. So anyone could have approached the MP.
Three, Ms Berger has not, apparently, had to have any additional security when inside that secure area. So there can be only one conclusion.
And that is, Four, that the threats to Ms Berger are not from those attending Conference.
What has happened is that a photo has been circulated, and those wanting to draw their own conclusions have done so, based on what they want to be true, rather than finding out first whether it is true. It is no surprise that the part of the press viscerally opposed to Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader is in the vanguard of those concluding thus (the Mail was in there too, making the story its front page lead yesterday).
Whatever threats have been made against Luciana Berger, they clearly have not come from anyone attending the Labour Party Conference. I’ll just leave that one there.
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