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

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Is Labour credible on racism whilst the anti-Semitism issue remains unresolved?

There is an important article by Chuka Umunna in the Independent in which he argues that anti-Semitism is a form of racism and that it is endemic within the Labour Party. Despite that, he argues, some continue to deny that it is and that it remains a problem.

Referring to a report of the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in the 2015-2017 parliament, of which he was a member, he says that one of its principal findings was: “The failure of the Labour Party to deal consistently and effectively with anti-Semitic incidents in recent years risks lending force to allegations that elements of the Labour movement are institutionally anti-Semitic".

Despite that, he adds, some continue to deny that it was and remains a problem: 'One supporter of my party posted on my Facebook page commented saying our report was “utter rubbish” and said it was “a disgrace it was signed by a Red Tory and a Jew.” He was referring to me and David Winnick, the other Labour MP who was a co-author of the report and is Jewish.'

But it is not just ordinary members that are preventing Labour dealing with this problem:

Most disappointingly, in his response to the report, not only did our leader make basic factual inaccuracies about its contents but he seemed incapable of acknowledging the Labour movement has a particular problem with antisemitism. He even went so far as to insinuate that we were using the issue as a “weapon” (his words, not mine) for political purposes.

Coming from a family which has had direct experience of racism, I found this to be grossly insulting and offensive – I made my feelings clear about this at the meeting of the Parliamentary Labour Party which followed publication of the report.

It is therefore unsurprising that antisemitism has continued unabated in and around the Labour Party since 2016. Just this month, Peter Kirker – who is a member of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy executive and has been a party officer in London and the Midlands – wrote in the Morning Star under the headline “Enough already with this Zionist frenzy”, in a piece which stated that “the noise around anti-Jewish racism has been engineered from within the murky right-wing world of British Zionism.”

His conclusion is damning:

Nothing currently illustrates just how broken British politics has become than the issue of antisemitism in Labour and the Tories’ appalling treatment of the Windrush generation – each of the main parties attacks the other on the issue, but both lack the credibility to do so in the eyes of many because of their party’s record on addressing prejudice within their own ranks.

A Jewish member of my constituency party – one of our most dedicated and active – emailed me a few weeks ago. She wrote: “What’s a dedicated Labour member such as myself supposed to do now? How many more incidents such as this should I take on the chin and stay in the party? How, when time and time again people I’ve supported and congratulated for winning elections turn out to hold antisemitic views, could I ever campaign and support anyone in the party, outside my immediate circle?

“Why should any Jewish person vote Labour?”

It is a valid question and one that becomes more difficult to answer as Jeremy Corbyn increasingly fails to resolve the issue once and for all.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

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