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Friday, February 08, 2019

Is this civil war?

The clickbait for the Independent's article on Jeremy Corbyn's letter to the Prime Minister and the backlash from the Parliamentary Labour Party is 'Corbyn sparks Labour civil war over referendum', and judging by the reaction of some MPs on social media that is certainly what it looks like to the outsider.

The paper says that Corbyn is battling to calm a growing Labour civil war over his refusal to support a fresh Brexit referendum, as some of his MPs threatened to quit the party in protest:

The Labour leader was forced to justify his intentions after his new offer to help Theresa May deliver Brexit triggered accusations that he had torpedoed his party’s policy of keeping a public vote on the table.

Amid growing tensions, Mr Corbyn wrote to party members to insist that party backing for a Final Say referendum remained an option – hours after furious Labour MPs accused their leader of helping enable Brexit.

A number of MPs, such as Pontypridd's Owen Smith and Liverpool Wavertree's Luciana Berger have even talked about quitting as Labour MPs, amongst talk of a breakaway party, and this forms the backdrop to a more serious dispute that goes to the heart of the left-right struggle within the Labour Party and Corbyn's failure to out the anti-Semitism row to bed.

As the Telegraph reports, Berger, who is a prominent Jewish MP, has been threatened with deselection by hard-Left constituency members over her criticism of Jeremy Corbyn and his handling of Labour’s anti-Semitism row.

The paper says that Labour MPs on Thursday night rallied behind Ms Berger, who has been subjected to a torrent of racist abuse in recent weeks, as it emerged that supporters of Mr Corbyn have begun laying the groundwork for ousting her:

It comes after the Liverpool Wavertree MP this week hit out at the Labour leadership over its failure to rid the party of anti-Semites, warning that abuse directed at Jewish members was increasingly “going unchecked”.

In response, a number of activists in her constituency party have put forward no confidence motions, accusing Ms Berger of “continually using the media to criticise the man we all want to be prime minister”.

The Telegraph has learnt that one of the signatories, Kenneth Campbell, is a far-Left activist who has previously accused Ms Berger of being a “disruptive Zionist” that should be replaced with a more socialist candidate.

He also suggested Dame Margaret Hodge, a fellow Jewish MP who has been similarly critical of the Labour leader, may have been motivated by her alleged “alternative financial interests”.

They add that Berger has repeatedly been targeted by online trolls and last year required a police escort at Labour’s party conference after receiving death threats. This is her testimony in the anti-Semitism debate in the House of Commons in April last year:

Yet, as I said in Parliament Square outside this place—it pains me to say this as the proud parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement—in 2018, anti-Semitism is now more commonplace, more conspicuous and more corrosive within the Labour party. That is why I have no words for the people purporting to be both members and supporters of our party and using the hashtag JCforPM who have attacked me in recent weeks for my comments, for speaking at the rally against anti-Semitism, and for questioning the remarks of those endorsing the anti-Semitic mural. They say I should be de-selected, and they have called it all a smear.

There are people who have accused me of having two masters. They have said that I am Tel Aviv’s servant, and called me a paid-up Israeli operative. Essentially, this is anti-Semitism of the worst kind, suggesting that I am a traitor to our country. They have called me Judas, a Zionazi and an absolute parasite, and they have told me to get out of this country and go back to Israel. 

However the attempt to de-select Berger is dressed up, it is difficult to move past the racist persecution she has suffered. This attempt to deselect her is the strongest indication yet of Corbyn's failure to deal with this problem.
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