The communist show trials of the last century were famous for their semblance of being fair and just while everyone knew the result would always be the same; guilty as charged, regardless of their innocence…
The investigation by Labour’s governing body into the racism of Jeremy Corbyn yesterday was similarly a show trial, although this time the result – which was obvious as soon as the meeting was announced – was not guilty despite his guilt.
This was a disgusting sham of an investigation. And it revealed there is still something deeply corrupt about the Labour Party when it comes to the issue of Jew hate.
The meeting over the future of Corbyn, who was suspended three weeks ago, was hastily convened once it became clear that the Corbynite wing of Labour had lost control of the NEC, Labour’s ruling body. A week before the new, more moderate, NEC executives started their job, Corbyn’s case leapfrogged dozens of cases which have been waiting more than a year to be seen (including the case of former NEC member Pete Willsman who was suspended in May 2019 for antisemitism).
He went in front of a committee headed by someone who had already agreed quite publicly with him in terms of the extent of the problem of antisemitism in Labour; NEC member Yasmin Dar. She had claimed: “I haven’t seen any evidence that this prejudice among a minority of members is an institutional problem.”
Corbyn was being judged by his own pals. This should not be happening in British politics. It is little wonder that some cynics go further and think this stitch-up was hastily arranged with an underhand agreement between the unions who supported Corbyn and are Labour’s money men (who have been threatening to withhold that money) and the people running the party.
Let’s remember what happened. Three weeks ago, the equalities complaints commission, the EHRC, set up by Labour in happier times, announced the result of an investigation, which had taken nearly 18 months, into Jew hatred in the party. It found that the party had been illegally discriminatory towards its Jewish members. It also found the leadership was at fault by deliberately intervening in cases.
It demanded the establishment of an independent complaints committee to oversee cases of antisemitism because it was obvious that the Jewish community was being used as a political football in a factional war.
It also revealed that one of the ways Jewish members had been abused and discriminated against was by people downplaying the issue of antisemitism and claiming it was either a factional attack or to stop someone criticising Israel.
Almost straight away, Corbyn proved his own antisemitism by downplaying the extent of antisemitism in the party he oversaw by saying: “The scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media.”
Here is what should have happened straight away; Starmer should have announced that the independent complaints committee, which he first promised when he was electioneering to become leader 11 months ago, was almost ready to go. He should have said all further complaints to do with antisemitism should go in front of that independent complaints committee.
And he should have suspended Corbyn not only for his comments after the report came out, but for being the head of the party attacked in the report and for allowing antisemitism to continue unpunished. It was in Starmer’s power to suspend his predecessor for bringing the Labour party into disrepute. Is there any leader in modern times in British history who has brought their party into disrepute more? But Starmer failed to do any of that, suspending him only for his post EHRC report statement.
Yesterday, before the meeting, Corbyn published a semblance of an apology for that statement. But it wasn’t a real apology. He changed his offensive comments about, “the scale of the problem” being dramatically overstated to saying “concerns about antisemitism” were neither exaggerated or overstated. One doesn’t contradict the other; one is just about those silly Jews being worried about something.
And once again – really quite astonishing for someone who still considers himself an anti-racist – he has refused to apologise for the reign of Jew-hate he oversaw. “I regret the pain this issue has caused the Jewish community” really is not the same as “I’m sorry, I let you down”.
I’ve been an activist against Labour antisemitism for more than two years now and, regretfully, I don’t see as much difference in the two parties as there should be. I don’t believe Keir Starmer is an antisemite but I am still not convinced he cares as much about the issue as he says. It’s great that he continues to withhold the whip from Corbyn but that is a gesture when we need more action.
After Corbyn’s suspension, others in the socialist grouping continued his work baiting the Jewish community. John McDonnell signed a letter saying the issue of antisemitism had been “weaponised”. Nothing happened, not even a slap on the wrist.
Meanwhile, yesterday, on Labour groups on Facebook, there was genuine happiness about the return of Corbyn for the sake of “party unity”. Popping my head up to say, “What about the antisemitism?” felt a lot like being the party pooper. Those moaning Jews again, having to make everything about them.
Keir Starmer is a clever man, unlike many in politics. But yesterday’s events showed that he either allowed himself to be outwitted by the Jew-baiting grouping within his party or he allowed them to do it for the sake of party unity. Either way, it utterly stinks.
And, I’m sad to say, the Labour Party still has a massive antisemitism issue.
Photo credit: ITV