Christine Shawcroft, the Labour party official who in the past week has resigned from her role on Labour’s NEC and also that of disputes panel chairwoman claims that the issue of anti-semitism in the party has been “stirred up” to attack Jeremy Corbyn.
Defending her own position and trying to characterise anti-semitism accusations as nothing more than attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, Shawcroft posted a statement that read: “Hi everyone, in case anyone has been misled by the press coverage, I am not a Holocaust denier and I would not support a Holocaust denier. I have been trying to support members who have been affected by all the shenanigans around Council selections, and thought this case was just another one of those. I had not seen the appalling and abhorrent post which was shared, and if I had seen it I would not have sent the supportive email. As soon as I saw it I told the member that he should have antisemitisim training.”
First Mr Corbyn denies having ‘properly’ looked at the anti-semitic mural whose creator he posted a supportive message to, and now Ms Shawcroft seems not to have seen horrifying anti-semitic posts which had ld to the suspension of the Labour party member whose suspension for anti-semitism she had opposed. It seems the Labour leadership are in need of a bulk prescription from Specsavers.
Shawcroft continued: “This whole row is being stirred up to attack Jeremy, as we all know. That someone who has spent his whole life fighting racism in all its forms should find himself being accused of not doing enough to counter it, absolutely beggars belief.”
Mr Corbyn himself said: “We in the Labour movement will never be complacent about anti-semitism. We all need to do better. I’m committed to making sure the Labour Party is a welcoming and secure place for Jewish people.” He added: “In the fight against anti-semitism, I am your ally and always will be.”
The ‘bunker mentality’ defence, whereby every criticism of Labour is described as an unjustified personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn instigated by right-wing enemies has been employed quite frequently of late, with Ms Shawcroft not alone in trying to deflect attention. However, not everybody inside Labour sees it the same way.
Lord Winston, a Jewish Labour peer, said the party leader had “encouraged and endorsed” anti-semites and that hostility to Jews has “infected the Labour Party so it’s become endemic”.
Former prime minister Tony Blair admitted recently that anti-semitism had become an issue in the party because the leadership and its supporters do not really think it is a problem, telling BBC Radio 4’s The Week In Westminster: “I think they think it’s basically something that’s got up by people who are opposed to him for all sorts of other reasons and are using anti-semitism as the battering ram against his leadership.”
“When this row first began – a couple of years ago it’s really been going on now – I confess to you, because I know the history of the Labour Party, I was sceptical about it. But the more I talk to Labour MPs and I talk to Labour members and Labour councillors, the more I realise, I’m afraid, it’s real. It should have been dealt with before.”
The labour party is torn between outright denial, admitting guilt and trying to deflect attention away from sensitive issues. Next we’ll be reading triumphal reports that ‘in response to personal anti-semitism smears against Jeremy, another 1,000 people joined the Labour party! Or something similar to keep the activists buzzing.