I recently highlighted hypocrisy exhibited by the Labour Party's NEC when they banned certain 'offensive' words. The bias was blatant - only words used against the anti-Corbyn brigade were listed. The ever increasing list of labels and insults used to brand Corbyn's supporters received no attention whatsoever. I wrote the piece hoping to give a voice to those being met with unjustified hostility from the very same people who accused them of bullying. I received hundreds of comments from Corbyn supporters, some very emotional, thanking me for speaking up on their behalf and emphasising that they are VICTIMS not perpetrators of bullying.
I had intended to move on to other issues, but things went from bad to worse. Once again many have been left in distress by comments from prominent Labour figures which filter down and fuel divisiveness in online groups and elsewhere. Those who admit to supporting Corbyn are treated with contempt; by other members of the Labour party. Many tell me they dare not try to discuss or debate Corbyn's leadership due to the name calling this provokes, or that they have been reduced to tears by the nasty personal comments and accusations they have received. But nothing is done. What do we see instead? Tom Watson's ludicrous claim that the Labour Party is being infiltrated by hard-left "Trotsky entryists", who are "twisting the arms" of young members, closely followed by Michael Foster in The Mail Online with "Why I despise Jeremy Corbyn and his Nazi Stormtroopers."
It's not just that not just that Corbynistas are victims of an extraordinary level of hostility, or that the accusations and stereotypes are false, it's that by any standard, they are just plain offensive. Malone's Gulag remark in The Mirror and Michael Foster's Nazi comparison in particular are trivialising something utterly horrific. I spoke to Rachel Nesbitt; founder of 'Jeremy Corbyn's Terrible Thugs #thuginistas', to get a feeling for just how upsetting Foster's comments are for Corbyn supporters of Jewish heritage.
"I'm a member of the Horwitz family. A Jewish line that can be traced back centuries and has played a huge role in Jewish history. Many members of our family suffered unspeakable horrors and died at the hands of Nazis. So many suffered. Just because they were Jewish. Calling me a Nazi is possibly the most loathsome thing you could do and claiming that I have a second rate mind is grossly offensive. I cannot begin to tell you how upset I was to wake up on Sunday to find I had been associated with those who inflicted so much suffering on my family. For anyone, never mind someone from the Jewish community, to trivialise the Holocaust is despicable. To ignore the fact that Corbyn has many Jewish supporters and brand them Nazis? I don't even have the words; I am too upset to even know what to say."
I'm sure she is not alone. Having accused Corbyn's supporters of being Nazis and of being stupid people whom he 'despises', Foster went on to say:
"We are asked to accept wave after wave of inappropriate, democratically damaging and wrongful actions by the Corbynistas as the new way by which politics will be conducted."
Ermmmm hello? Pot...? Kettle....? Black...? Ring any bells? What the hell are you on about?!
I mean seriously, who is it that has been undermining democracy? Corbyn's supporters are once again being accused of perpetrating something that they are victims of. Foster's perspective is utter nonsense.
We are still seeing a long list of criminal and anti-social acts allegedly perpetrated by Corbynistas used to justify insults used against them, but where is the evidence? Are those who make these accusations privy to information which the police are not? A number of claims about abusive or threatening behaviour have been categorically refuted, yet they are still endlessly repeated as fact. Corbynistas, or, as you could also describe them, people who support Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader, are just that. People. I have been to a number of ward and CLP level meetings, with roughly a 50/50 split for and against Corbyn. Yes there has been discussion, at times even debate, but nothing even verging on an argument. I have spoken to people from across the country and have yet to find anyone who was actually AT a meeting where hordes of new members stormed the meeting and were disrespectful and hostile. Maybe it has happened somewhere. But if so it's hardly the norm. As for the much maligned Momentum group, those I know are ladies of a certain age who crochet and sell baked goods to raise funds. Hardly the militant pressure group I have heard about.
In the absence of any response from the Labour party, it falls to people like Rachel to take action; her aims resonated with many and her group on Facebook attracted thousands of members within weeks:
"It's about coming together to make fun of the names we're called. It's a coping mechanism. Corbyn's supporters are decent people, smart people, people who want CHANGE. They don't want to suffer anymore. They have a right to want that. The Post Truth politics I'm seeing right now is frightening, it's horrendous for Democracy. Politicians complain that not enough people, especially young people, are involved in politics. We finally see someone we believe in- we rise up, come together- go to meetings, voice our opinions, get involved- and suddenly we are 'Entryists' and idiots who 'don't understand'. Excuse me?! The tone of the press is predominantly 'Oh they don't really get it'. We DO understand actually. We just don't AGREE with you. There is a difference. Just because you don't like us doesn't mean we shouldn't be here or have our voices heard. Jeremy Corbyn has inspired hundreds of thousands of people to be interested in Politics. That alone is worthy of respect."
People like Tom Watson and Michael Foster are fuelling abuse, setting a terrible example and encouraging others to follow their lead. When will the NEC take action against THEM?