30 October 2020
Yesterday I was upset. Today I am angry writes Bury South C.L.P member Roy Wilkes.
Jeremy Corbyn was suspended from the Labour Party – my party – for telling the truth. I have posted this on my own Facebook page because I intend to repeat that truth as publicly as I can. We all should, as an act of solidarity with Jeremy. If they suspend 200 000 of us, so be it. If we can’t tell the truth in politics, what really is the point.
Anti Semitism exists throughout society. It is less prevalent among Labour Party members than it is in society at large. And it is considerably less prevalent than it is in the Conservative Party. That isn’t just based on my personal experience, which the EHRC graciously allows me to express. It is confirmed by a YouGov poll of a substantial sample of 1614 British adults taken in 2017.
So why is there a widespread perception that the Labour Party is riddled with anti-Semitism, and that the Party under Corbyn tolerated and even encouraged it? How has this myth come to be regarded as a self-evident truth? Jeremy Corbyn told the truth about that too. It was a deliberate project by the political opponents of socialism.
Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t the first Labour Leader to be accused of anti-Semitism.
Ed Miliband, who if elected would have become our first Jewish Prime Minister since Disraeli, and who was himself the victim of a campaign of dog-whistle anti Semitism by the gutter press, was also subjected to a milder version of the treatment meted out to Corbyn. Why? Because he vociferously condemned Israel’s murderous bombing of Gaza, and because he whipped Labour MPs to vote for unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. The 2015 general election clearly showed that a combination of actual anti Semitism against Miliband combined with a false assertion that support for the Palestinian cause is inherently anti-Semitic, could contribute to both defeating the Labour Party at the polls and defeating the left within the Party.
The election as Labour leader of the stridently pro-Palestinian and anti-war Jeremy Corbyn sent shockwaves throughout both the right and centre of the Labour Party and the rest of the British establishment. Israel, as the most heavily armed power in the oil-rich Middle East, is the foremost strategic ally of both US and British imperialism. The prospect of a British Labour government disrupting the established geopolitical power relations was too much for the ruling class to bear. A campaign of destabilisation began in earnest and was intensified after the close shave of the 2017 election. The war against Corbyn was waged on several fronts, but one of the most effective was around the allegations of anti-Semitism.
The ruling class understood that by stoking the entirely false narrative of a Labour Party gripped by rampant anti-Semitism they could incite debilitating division within the party while at the same time turning Jewish people more heavily against Labour. Instilling this heightened sense of fear within the Jewish community was cynical, manipulative and, in my opinion, anti-Semitic. It also creates its own circular dynamic: convince Jewish people that Labour is anti-Semitic, then publicise the fact that Jewish people fear and distrust the Labour Party, as evidence of Labour’s anti-Semitism. Respected leaders of the Jewish community, including the chief Rabbi, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement, repeatedly told Jewish people that a Corbyn government would represent an existential threat to them. When a lie is repeated often enough by respected leaders, when it is enthusiastically endorsed by a high proportion of Labour MPs, and when it is prominently reported in the mainstream media, then, of course, a lot of people will believe it. But it certainly was a lie.
Jeremy Corbyn has probably the proudest record of any MP of consistently fighting anti-Semitism, both inside and outside parliament. A Corbyn government would have represented no threat whatsoever to Jewish people. It would, however, have promoted peace in the Middle East and around the world, it would have defended the rights of Palestinians living under brutal Israeli occupation, it would have reduced inequality at home, it would have deprivatised and expanded the NHS and other services, and it would have taken steps to decarbonise our economy.
None of that was acceptable to our ruling class.
So they had to not only defeat Jeremy Corbyn, but they also had to make an example of him, pour encourager les autres, and destroy him.