While energy bills steeple ever upwards, food costs begin to rise, and shortages at fuel stations and in supermarkets come and go, with the Covid-19 pandemic still claiming more than 100 lives every single day, Her Majesty’s Opposition is conspicuous by its absence from the field of play. Worse, Labour gives every appearance of wasting resources on disciplinary matters, exemplified by the pursuit of Heather Mendick.
Who she? Ms Mendick is an active member of Hackney South and Shoreditch Labour Party. She is also, whisper it quietly, co-secretary of Hackney Palestine Solidarity Campaign. She is being investigated for actions that “may reasonably be seen to involve antisemitic actions, stereotypes and sentiments”. Ms Mendick is Jewish.
The invocation of Labour’s disciplinary process against her was magnificently tone deaf: the email effectively accusing her of anti-Semitism was sent on Erev Rosh Hashanah, and requested a response during the ten days of repentance before Yom Kippur. As she has noted, “This was done in the name of … making the party welcoming for Jewish people. In making this claim, the Labour Party is excluding me from the category of ‘Jewish People’”.
So what is the genesis of this investigation? Zelo Street regulars may find this observation from Ms Mendick brings back memories: “In August 2019, my Twitter account was listed in the Community and Security Trust’s report Engine Of Hate. The report’s authors do not discuss my account except generically but they do state that looking in detail at my Twitter feed they found no anti-Semitic material”. That’s most interesting.
At the time the Engine Of Hate report was released, Shaun Lawson considered the methodology used and observed “The CST appear to be suggesting that you're 'antisemitic' if you’ve: 1. Angrily criticised Rachel Riley … 2. Angrily criticised Tom Watson … 3. Used the hashtag GTTO (Get The Tories Out) … 4. Referred to what al-Jazeera exposed in their film, The Lobby … 5. Criticised Luciana Berger”. There was more.
I later considered “the CST’s admission that only 12 of the 36 Twitter accounts it both identified and named have posted anti-Semitic Tweets. The group has needlessly defamed 24 individuals. It hasn’t retracted or apologised. And it appears unwilling to do so …The thought occurs that the CST may have selected some of its targets, knowing they did not have the means to go to law in order to defend themselves”.
So some of those smeared by the CST “are left to try and defend themselves as best they can, fearful of being attacked online, or worse, tracked down and attacked physically, while those who hang on the CST’s every word as if it were unvarnished fact compound the smear”. If Labour is going anywhere near the Engine Of Hate report in pursuing Ms Mendick, that suggests a combination of the desperate and the Owellian.
Accusation of Thoughtcrime leading to Unpersoning? That would be Doubleplus Ungood.
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