The news that reported incidents of reported antisemitism are at an all-time high comes as no surprise to Labour Against Antisemitism. We report members creating, sharing and voicing antisemitic content every week to the Labour Party compliance unit and alarmingly the rate of reporting is increasing, not decreasing. What is more, the CST do not report on what is happening on social media which is where Labour Against Antisemitism does most of its work, and the picture there is even worse. In fact, it’s a cess pit.
Levels of antisemitism found on social media groups, such as ‘Labour Party Forum’ and ‘The Labour Party Forum’, where not only is antisemitism tolerated but dissenting voices are blocked, show no signs of abating (see @gnasherjew for some sample screenshots, this report on an admin for the 19,000 strong pro-Corbyn Facebook page, ‘Jeremy Corbyn – True Socialism’ or take a look for yourselves – I would provide links but I was banned a long time ago). Hard Left posters regularly share content drawn directly from Far Right sites: these are the places where a common hatred of Jews unites the two political extremes, where the Holocaust is questioned and it is assumed that the world is run by the omnipresent ‘Israeli lobby’. One of the moderators of Labour Party Forum, Michelle Harris, was recently dropped from the shortlist for parliamentary candidates for the marginal Hastings and Rye seat after revelations about antisemitic content she had shared online came to light.
Those looking for positive indications that the leadership are doing something about this will be disappointed. In recent weeks obfuscation on the issue from the Labour Party itself has actually worsened. The election of Jon Lansman to the NEC offered a glimmer of optimism that a figure of and on the left, who had expelled Jackie Walker from Momentum, would insist on a harder line from Labour’s governing body, the NEC, on antisemitism. Instead, just days after news of his election was announced, the NEC removed the highly respected and scrupulously independent Ann Black from Chair of the Disputes Panel to be replaced by friend of Tony Greenstein, defender of Ken Livingstone, and director of Momentum, Christine Shawcroft.
This action was immediately followed by a decision by the NEC to refer Mike Sivier, who was suspended by Labour for a range of antisemitic comments, to a training course rather than face expulsion via the NCC disciplinary board, enraging those who expected Mr Sivier - a seemingly open-and-shut case - to be thrown out. (When Mr Sivier discovered the training would be run by the Jewish Labour Movement he immediately and very publicly declined to attend). It has also been revealed that the hearing of Tony Greenstein, suspended for over a year, has been delayed again, while requests to Christine Shawcroft that she clarify why have been ignored.
Outside the body of the party itself, those satellite circles that the leadership once called comrades have also been active. Groups like Jewish Voice for Labour who promote the ‘Antis-Zionism is not antisemitism’ lie (for what is denial of a peoples homeland, if not intrinsically hateful?) are courted and validated by senior party figures such as Len McCluskey and Jeremy Corbyn himself.
The media colludes in the narrative that Labour antisemitism is a negligible concern: the BBC gives platforms to Jackie Walker and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi to allow them to continue to promote their antisemitic messages, while Ken Loach is given an interview by the New Statesman where he is allowed to claim that antisemitism in the Labour Party is a “minor” issue, “used to undermine Jeremy Corbyn”. Mr Loach wasn’t challenged on this, and no counter-views were presented. On Holocaust Memorial Day, the former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, appeared on the UK YouTube channel of PressTV to take part in a debate titled ‘‘Has the Holocaust been exploited to oppress others’. There has been not a word of condemnation from the Labour leadership, despite the fact that Mr Livingstone remains an (albeit suspended) Labour Party member.
The lack of concrete action and the mixed messages emanating from the leadership of the party continues to sustain a toxic online and offline environment where left wing Jew-hate is flourishing. Requests that Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the party hierarchy be proactive in confronting Labour antisemitism have been ignored. As a consequence, we continue to see figures like those published by the CST today.
The link between cause and effect is always difficult to prove, but it would be unforgiveable for a society that declared ‘never again’ in 1945 to once again allow the oldest prejudicial hatred to not only reappear but to flourish and thrive. Unfortunately, that is what we are seeing, before our eyes, at the heart of the modern Labour Party. Without major corrective action it will fail totally. Perhaps it already has.