On National Holocaust Memorial Day in January, I published a blog entry that expressed my frustration at having to keep speaking out against Anti-Semitism.
Now we’re going through another iteration of the struggle, essentially coming from a number of strands of leftist thought – the Jews are different from other minorities in that they are contended to be symbols of rich capitalism; seeking to overthrow capitalism; loyalty to the Leader; anything that distracts from the main cause is an act of betrayal conducted by traitors.
So let’s take the opportunity to say – please folks, stop the defence of anti-Semitic actions.
A mural painted in London some six years ago, setting out to berate capitalism, was seen as racist by a local London Council leader who had it painted over. And Jeremy Corbyn protested. The story was re-told again, alleging Jeremy was tolerant of anti-Semitism and at the third attempt, Jeremy Corbyn accepted his support for the mural was a mistake.
Too late. The incident was taken as a sign that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was still not being taken seriously enough and a high-profile protest was held outside Parliament.
But some gratification was taken for the resolve signalled by the leader to do something serious about it.
And then Christine Shawcroft, who has over recent years been a strong helper for me, resigns from chair of the Labour party’s Disputes panel cos she’d backed a suspended candidate, when it turns out that candidate had shared a holocaust denial graphic.
Meanwhile, other friends shared a graphic taken from a BBC broadcast with the following caption –
Jewish Voice … “I have been in the Labour party nearly 50 years, I am a Jew. I have not met antisemitism. I cannot think of a single incident in my political career that I have met it. There is NOT rampant antisemitism in the Labour party and Mr Corbyn himself has done an enormous amount actually to deal with the cases of antisemitism”
“I cannot think of a single incident …” And I wonder – how hard is this voice trying?
In my limited local experience –
– 2 Labour Cllrs suspended for party membership for sharing inappropriate images;
– 1 County Council candidate who’d shared an anti-Semitic image of a world banker;
More widely –
– a shortlisted Labour candidate withdrawn from the list cos of anti-Semitic images shared;
– the Labour Party commissioning an investigation and producing a report that says there are problems;
– the Leader acknowledging at the third attempt that his reaction to a mural some years previous was not sufficient;
– the Deputy Leader saying action required was now going to be stepped up;
– people defending the mural AFTER the Leader had given up on defending it;
– the chair of the committee for handling discipline resigning after supporting a would-be council candidate who’d been blocked for sharing a holocaust denial image, without checking the image.
** I did not see that coming. **
Too many colleagues are sharing defences of Jezza when Jezza has said he’s got it wrong;
(To be clear – defending that mural even though Jezza says it’s anti-Semetic).
Too many colleagues are defending or even sharing anti-Semite tropes;
(I was actually working with Christine tackling one particular instance in 2016/7).
Too many colleagues are judging a situation on perceived position within the party first.
And after all this, 2,000 people have supported a statement re-iterating that this has been all been used to get Jeremy Corbyn.
John McDonnell meanwhile blamed failure to implement a report on the General Secretary who’s just retired.
Those familiar with the three envelope joke will be aware that he’s used the new General Secretary’s first way out (blame the predecessor), when perhaps the second (unforeseen circumstances) might have been appropriate. On the other hand, you shudder at just what can come that we haven’t already seen? And the third envelope contains a letter saying write out three envelopes.
Cos it turns out the key outstanding action – a remit for a dedicated legal officer – was still with the Leader’s office.
What has stunned this section of politics that has so thought they were the pioneers and champions for anti-racism is that they could be the guilty ones, the baddies.
Cos what comes with that section is democratic centralism, the leader is right and intolerance for other views, and intolerance of party politics; and incompetence.
And it is a tragedy cos the racism that can be found from current Conservatives is worse.
Cos anti-Semitic views within Labour party members are much lower than within the British public in general.
The story should not be them, or the Labour Party. And they know it.
And they can’t even imagine how they might be responsible.