.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Labour MPs targeted over anti-semitism protests

I have never been a Labour supporter, but in the past I have respected that party for the values it is meant to stand for. The party's internationalism, its opposition to racism, sexism and all forms of discrimination and its championing of social justice have marked Labour out as a movement on the centre left.

Labour's actions on the ground have not always reflected its values but then that can also be said of any political party. My beef with them has been their innate conservatism on some social issues, their inability to value the role of the individual and communities, and their reliance on top-down state action to solve all of society's ills.

I suppose that once you have nearly half a million members, it is difficult to maintain the same focus on core values but the Labour Party that I respected no longer appears to exist. Why that has happened is difficult to pin down but the indifference of its leadership to certain developments, not least Brexit, and their tolerance of some unacceptable behaviour within the party has not helped.

A case in point is the current row over anti-Semitism within Labour. Despite a number of half-hearted attempts to deal with this cancer that is eating away at his party, Jeremy Corbyn appears to be more concerned with maintaining a broad church rather than stamping out once and for all, the sort of unacceptable behaviour that is undermining his leadership.

The Guardian for example, reports that Corbyn has condemned the vilification and abuse of Labour MPs who attended Monday night’s demonstration against anti-Semitism in the party, but signs of a general clampdown are few and far between. The abuse continues:

The Skwawkbox, a leftwing blog, emailed several MPs, including John Woodcock, Ian Austin and Wes Streeting, challenging them to prove they opposed all racism in a way that implied their opposition to antisemitism was only a way of attacking the party leadership.

One email attacking Stella Creasy demanded evidence of Walthamstow MP “publicly denouncing Islamophobia, publicly denouncing racism towards black people or participating in demonstrations against Islamophobia and racism towards black and other ethnic groups”. Creasy says she is now having to deal with “organised abuse” at a local level.

Instead we get the chair of Labour's internal disputes panel, Christine Shawcroft, lending support to a candidate who has been suspended for anti-Semitism and then resigning once her e-mail has been leaked. She remains a member of Labour's National Executive Committee - more mixed messages.

This targeting of MPs who have quite rightly protested against anti-Semitism in Labour is unacceptable. Why would any party tolerate such behaviour? And yet Corbyn's condemnation is far from convincing as one commentator points out:

“It’s massively underwhelming,” Richard Ferrer, the editor of the Jewish News said. “He’s squandered a wonderful opportunity to speak to the Jewish community in a week when they needed it most.

As the paper points out, many MPs are still shocked by the strength of feeling demonstrated on Monday night against Labour’s failure to act on antisemitic conduct. Many of them want it to be a turning point for the party and the Corbyn leadership. Some believe it could be a potent symbol of the kind of government that an incoming Labour party would run – reminiscent of Tony Blair rewriting clause four as a token of his determination to run a centre-left government.

Does Corbyn have the focus and resolve to deal with this issue as decisively as Blair dealt with Clause Four? Very few believe that he has the cojones to do so, and I agree with them.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?