There have been few new claims of anti-Semitism levelled at the Labour leadership in the last few weeks. So, just to make sure the issue is not allowed to drift from public consciousness, the Murdoch Sunday Times has returned to the fray with the highly creative headline “Labour’s hate files expose Corbyn’s anti-Semite army” (capitalising the “S” of “Semite” was somehow missed). It looks damning.
April 2019 - looks a lot like ...
That is, of course, because it is intended to be damning. The problem for this joint effort between Gabriel Pogrund and Richard Kerbaj is that what they have served up, at least with the part on the front page, is that it does not support the headline claim. For starters, the “army” referenced is backed up by five specific cases.
This is not to suggest that anti-Semitism should be given a free pass; it should not. More disturbing is the suggestion the article takes its information from internal Labour sources, when once again the content does not stand that up. Instead, we read of “A hard drive of emails and a confidential database”. Whose emails and database?
Consider this central claim. “Corbyn’s office has been involved in approving, delaying or blocking at least 101 complaints”. From whom? How was it involved? But there is more. “The party claims the disciplinary process has been free from political interference since March last year. A month later, however, in an email seen by the Sunday Times, Corbyn’s chief of staff, Karie Murphy, said that ‘going forward’, his office needed an ‘overwiew’ of politically sensitive cases”. That is not interference. It is a request for information.
Those cases cited don’t include detail on what the disciplinary process involved. Does Labour operate a one-strike-and-out policy? The ST is suggesting it should, which would make it a considerably harsher disciplinary environment than, oh I dunno, the Tory Party. Or indeed the Murdoch press (pace Trevor Kavanagh and Rod Liddle).
... what was tried in April 2018
Then we come to the authors of the article. Many reading the ST today may not be aware that it is almost exactly a year since Pogrund brought the paper’s readers a remarkably similar-looking effort titled “Exposed: Corbyn’s hate factory”. This claimed, more or less, the “factory” was Facebook groups with no formal connection to the Labour Party.
Also on the by-line is Richard Kerbaj. Where do we start with him? Kerbaj was behind the totally untrue claim that the Tories were sounding out Michael Bloomberg to contest the 2016 London Mayoral Election. He contributed to the article claiming Edward Snowden had sold out western security interests to Russia (later undermined when his fellow hack Tom Harper made an idiot of himself over the claims live on CNN).
Kerbaj gave 20-year-old Jack Letts the nickname “Jihadi Jack”. Letts, who had converted to Islam in his teens and had travelled to Syria, ended up in a Kurdish jail. He was smeared as a “terror convert” and worse by the Sun and Mail. His parents just wanted to get him home, they appeared to trust Kerbaj, and they got royally screwed over (see Zelo Street posts HERE, HERE and HERE). Richard Kerbaj is an unreliable witness.
Labour may be in trouble over these latest claims. They may not. But the content offered to readers does not support the headline claim, it’s an article format the ST has tried before when the Tories are in trouble, and its authors have significant previous.
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