The claims of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party have resurfaced with a vengeance over the past weekend after news broke that Margaret Hodge, who represents the east London constituency of Barking, had been triggered for a reselection contest. There were immediate accusations of hard-left infiltration, and of course more anti-Semitism. But the reality is rather more prosaic, which is why we aren’t reading about it.
But first the procedural stuff: as the Guardian has reported, “Under reformed Labour rules, a selection contest can be triggered if a third of local Labour branches vote in favour”. As the Skwawkbox has revealed, in response to accusations that only a minority of branches voted for the trigger process, “only seven of the eleven branches voted. Five of those seven voted in favour of the trigger - but when the threshold of one in three branches was reached, the remaining branch votes were abandoned”.
So a majority of branches polled voted for the trigger process. But then came the accusations of anti-Semitism, with Mike Katz of the Jewish Labour Movement in particularly judgmental form: “Margaret Hodge has been a steadfast campaigner against racism, fascism and intolerance throughout her political life”. There was more.
“She saw off the BNP in Barking and has over the last few years been determined in her opposition to antisemitism within the Labour party. This is a shameful moment for a party which claims to embody the values of equality and diversity. She has been the target of vicious smears, derision and antisemitism, because she has been resolute in her opposition to anti-Jewish racism”. But this is just bullshit.
Katz has it wrong. So, sadly, does Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson, who talked of a “hard left faction” which does not exist. So did the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges. So did arch-creep Wes Streeting, which takes some doing, given he’s not far away in Ilford North.
So let’s put these august observers straight. Look for a start at the Facebook page for Barking and Dagenham Momentum - where you would expect to see the activist left. There has not been an entry since October 2017 - TWO YEARS AGO. There is a good reason for this: there is little, if any, of the organised left in Barking.
Moreover, as Skwawkbox revealed, the impetus for a trigger ballot can be traced back to members of Labour First, which represents the “moderate” wing of the party - or, to put it more directly, the Labour right. Why would they do that? Simples. There had been an expectation that Margaret Hodge, who celebrated her 75th birthday last month, would announce her retirement and leave the field clear for a local replacement candidate.
She hasn’t, and so she hasn’t. Her own local party, which has no significant organised left presence - something Jon Lansman has tried to get through to those who had already made their minds up that the Rotten Lefties™ done it - has lost patience and has decided to give its members the opportunity to bring on the next generation.
There is no hard-left involvement, and no anti-Semitism, involved. And there won’t be any, just by the disaffected and clueless inventing them. I’ll just leave that one there.
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