It must have seemed a good idea at the time: what looked on the face of it to be a clear case of anti-Semitism from a Labour supporter, quote Tweeted at a number of party supporters, including Jeremy Corbyn, and on the kind of open feed that would get lots of attention. But for the appallingly slippery Michael “Oiky” Gove, it all went wrong the moment he composed his damning Tweet. And now it’s gone even more wrong.
As Zelo Street regulars will know, in weaponising the offending Tweet, Gove conflated “Jewish” and “Israel”, thereby falling foul of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. Then that offending Tweet was deleted; now the account that created it has been taken private. Labour supporters have checked out Joe Woods, “Momentum member, Labour member, Communist, Wolves fan” and concluded that he is not linked to Momentum, or Labour.
So it seems “Oiky” has either fallen into the trap of being faked, or the account was faked to order. Worse, that he is such a senior Tory, and throwing around what looks like a bogus allegation of anti-Semitism has not gone down well with Labour Party members.
Hence the Independent today telling readers “Michael Gove urged to apologise for sharing antisemitic tweet falsely attributed to Labour member … Momentum accuse cabinet minister of attempting to 'smear us through association’”. Do go on.
“The cabinet minister took to social media to urge Jeremy Corbyn and some of his high-profile supporters to condemn a tweet saying ‘we can't trust Jews’, from a user claiming to be a member of Labour and Momentum, the Corbyn-backing grassroots network … But Labour and Momentum both confirmed the account ‘Joe Woods #JC4PM’ did not belong to any of their members, with Momentum accusing Mr Gove of attempting to ‘smear us through association’”. Then came a conclusion that Gove may not want to hear.
“Labour also said it believed the account was fake and urged Mr Gove to concentrate on stamping out Islamophobia within the Tory party … A party source said: ‘The tweet was disgusting and plainly antisemitic. The details of the account do not match any Labour member and we believe it may be fake.’” Did Gove fail to check before smearing?
After all, the Tweet he picked up on was not the first from the Joe Woods account recently to veer across the anti-Semitism line: there was also “This proves how hostile and anti-Corbyn Jews are” from 30th October. It looks very much like an account behaving as an agent provocateur, deliberately trying to ensnare real Labour members.
So it is not so far fetched to see one Tweeter musing “There's a part of me that thinks the Twitter account in question belongs either to Gove or someone at CCHQ. There are many accounts like these”. Maybe not Gove, but CCHQ? You wouldn’t put it past them. The Joe Woods account doesn’t sound authentic. It sounds like a Tory plant.
After all, the day after that second offending Tweet, Natalie Rowe revealed she’d had a tip-off: “Brace yourselves! [Dominic Cummings] has now decided that the only way forward is for the [Conservatives] [and] [Boris Johnson] to now RAMP UP the LIE that [Jeremy Corbyn] is anti-Semitic”. It’s one hell of a coincidence.
Maybe it’s too much of a coincidence. I’ll just leave that one there.
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