It comes with a heavy heart that I write this piece, as whilst the latest set of controversies surrounding the stain of anti-semitism within the Labour Party have unfolded over the last month or two, I had faith in Jeremy Corbyn and his team to take both the initiative and the personal responsibility to root this out of my party and my movement – a movement that exists to oppose all forms of oppression, hate, discrimination, xenophobia and outright racism.
I had faith that after the controversies surrounding his personal mistakes in the past – most notably the blatantly anti-Semitic mural in East London that he defended after plans to take it down by the local authorities – that he would take the opportunity to come down hard on those who have been accused of anti-semitism within the party, and apologise wholeheartedly for those mistakes rather than what he has done, which is show no real signs of dealing with this with an iron fist as he should have done, but come up with ridiculous excuses like ‘he hadn’t looked at the mural properly’.
Now it is time for action, as actually the inaction displayed by Corbyn is an action in and of itself, and speaks volumes about his commitment to ensure that the legacy of our great party is not tainted by the ugly scourge of anti-semitism that has reared its head under his leadership.
Watching the 3 hour long debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday brought me to tears as I watched Labour MP’s stand up and criticize our leader and our own party. It occurred to me that the man that inspired me to join the Labour Party, the man I voted for twice to be leader against all the odds, the man that has ignited within me a belief that my brand of politics could be taken all the way to the door of No.10 Downing Street and radically transform our society for the better, could be either an anti-semite himself or someone who thinks so little of it, that he would turn his back on the vulnerable Jewish community in the UK and beyond. How could an unashamed Socialist and a life-long fighter against racism and xenophobia, be an anti-semite? Has my faith in Corbyn and his project been built upon rotting and filthy foundations? I had hoped not, but now I honestly do not know.
Not only is this a huge disappointment to me, it actually makes me furious as I know it does others. What makes me most furious, is Corbyn’s inability to take personal responsibility for his own mistakes, and the initiative to act swiftly and without hesitation. I honestly do not understand, unless it is simply sheer incompetence, how Corbyn could make so many successive mistakes in regard to this scandal.
His defense of the awful mural on grounds of ‘free speech’ back in 2012 should be unconvincing enough, yet the idea that he simply ‘didn’t look close enough’ before defending it will not pull the wool over anyone’s eyes, and the fact that him and his team thought it would is a frightening thought. You only have to take one, split-second glance at the mural to know and understand the anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes that it is steeped in. The local authorities were absolutely justified in taking it down, because the use of ‘free speech’ to incite racial hatred is reason enough to have it suppressed, simple as.
Now to Ken Livingstone. To be fair, I’d actually sort of forgotten about him which is probably a good thing. But it was the words of Labour MP for Dudley North, Ian Austin in the Commons debate that reminded me of him. He said that “Ken Livingstone claimed that Hitler was a Zionist. That is antisemitism, pure and simple. It happened more than two years ago, and there has been ample time to deal with it, so it is a disgrace that it has not been dealt with. Kick him out immediately… It is a disgrace…Boot him out!” After being reminded of the fact that it had been two years since his absolutely maddening and outrightly anti-semitic comments were made, I realize that actually we have forgotten about him for the wrong reasons.
We should have forgotten about him, because he should have been totally expelled from the party as soon as he’d made those comments. Rather than ‘suspension’ whilst ‘due process’ is respected, he should have been gone at the click of a finger. You don’t need due process to understand what he was saying, and you certainly don’t need two years of it. Honestly, I don’t think Corbyn has it in him to permanently expel Livingstone, a life-long radical Socialist, close ally, and close friend of his. I don’t think he could take the humiliation of seeing one of his oldest friends expelled under his leadership – a leadership they have been fighting for for years. But tough luck. He’s an anti-semite, and that’s that.
When I first started reading about the latest accusations against Corbyn, I was unsure. I was susceptible to believing that this was being used as a smear against him, and it actually saddens me that my mind went there first, rather than actually believe that the accusations had depth to them. That unfortunately, appears to be the power of the cult of propaganda surrounding my party’s leader – that he is somehow untouchable, un-taintable and unable to do harm; myths that can easily stick on young people like myself.
Part of why I didn’t believe it was at the beginning, I couldn’t find many that were providing examples of the anti-semitism that were apparently plaguing our party. But only twenty minutes of online searches is enough to realize the extent of the problem. Just a few of the most shocking and astounding examples which I’m sure many would have seen by now, include Corbyn being a member of four to five Facebook groups that have hundreds of posts carrying the same, age-old, hateful stereotypes about the Rothschild’s, the Illuminati, the ‘new world order’ conspiracies.
As well as this, 12 high-ranking officials within the offices of Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell being apart of 20 pro-Corbyn Facebook groups that had shared 2000 similar anti-semitic, racist and misogynist posts. Christine Shawcroft, a national director for Momentum and short-lived Labour Party disputes committee chair, who tried to stop a blatant Holocaust denier from being disallowed to stand for Labour in the upcoming council elections in May. The fact that Corbyn called members of Hamas and Hezbollah his ‘friends’, despite their extreme credo wishing to wipe Jews off the face of the Earth. There are hundreds, thousands even, of other examples of the most hateful and disgusting Jewish hatred coming from those who would call themselves a Socialist but even if the examples I had given above were the total sum, that should be enough to sound the alarms.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men should stand by and do nothing”. These words of Edmund Burke are unbelievably prescient in the context of Corbyn’s clear inability to stand up and stamp down on the rot within the Labour Party and the wider Socialist movement – a rot that he has found himself complicit in. And whilst its great that Corbyn’s parents met at a rally against Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, that is no excuse to turn a blind eye to the blatant anti-semitism amongst the left, when if this sort of scourge reared its head on the right, the same people defending Corbyn would be after them at the click of a finger.
It is a total tragedy that we have got to a point in the history of our great party where Labour MP’s, Labour members and members of the Jewish community feel they have to stand outside of Parliament in protest at Leftist anti-semitism. It is shameful, and if Corbyn does not act right now against the rot, against the hatred, against the abhorrence of it all, then he is not worthy of the office of leader of the Labour Party and a Prime Minister in waiting.
I will leave you with the words of the great, brave and courageous Jewish Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree, Luciana Berger who has received an unabated torrent of the most grotesque and horrific anti-semitic abuse for simply speaking out against it – “One anti-semitic Labour member is one too many”.