Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could, in Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ happy phrase, “recant and repent”. He could urge the party’s NEC to adopt the whole of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, along with every one of the attached examples. He could make any number of apologies, subject himself to any amount of training. He could accede to every demand recently made of him. But we now know that would not satisfy one of his critics.
For Barking’s veteran MP Margaret Hodge, Jezza now has to go. In fact, he always had to go, although Ms Hodge’s candour did not extend to admitting that yesterday. For her, this is personal. It is no longer about anti-Semitism, if indeed it ever was. As the Guardian has reported, she “has signalled that Labour MPs critical of Jeremy Corbyn are digging in for a long struggle against his leadership as she suggested that the antisemitism row would only end if he stood aside”. It’s not about anti-Semitism. It’s about getting Jezza out.
You think I exaggerate? “Hodge said it would no longer be enough if the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) adopts on Tuesday, as expected, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism with all 11 of the attached examples”. But this is not her fault. It is, by the most fortunate coincidence, Corbyn’s.
“It might have been enough three months ago, it might have just enabled us all to start talking to each other and bring trust again, but I think that moment has passed” she claimed, and then let slip “The problem is that he is the problem … The party is bigger than Corbyn. Our party has been around for over 100 years, Corbyn has only been there for three - three damaging years”. And why is it so personal?
Ah well. Thanks to Private Eye magazine, we now know how Ms Hodge’s vindictiveness was kindled. Recalling an early meeting between her and Jezza, it tells “MILLIONAIRE newcomer to the House of Commons Margeret Hodge has had a tricky time with some of her fellow Labour MPs … A former leader of Islington Council and now a devoted Blairite member for Barking, Hodge agreed to debate Clause 4 with hard left MP Jeremy Corbyn in front of an earnest crowd at the Red Rose Centre in Islington”. There was more.
“Corbyn argued to retain the public ownership clause while Hodge said electoral victory must come first. Corbyn won the crowd over completely - at which point Hodge turned from cool pragmatist into fuming maniac. She rose to reply and completely blew her gasket: she called the astonished crowd stupid and accused them of loving being in opposition and of having their heads in the sand.” And the conclusion of this encounter?
“Of the hundred or so present, only two voted in favour of Hodge, one of them being Stephen Twigg, ex-president of the NUS (and now Hodge’s researcher).” It wasn’t about anti-Semitism then, and it isn’t about anti-Semitism now. It’s about a vindictive and jealous politician enacting an act of retribution for coming second best once again.
The minor detail which Margeret Hodge chooses to ignore, of course, is that the party is not only bigger than Jezza, it is bigger than her. And that her obsession has the potential to bring the whole house crashing down - to wreck the Labour Party.
That’s the problem with obsessions - the inability to see the damage they do to others.
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