Darren Williams, Labour NEC

NEC Member Darren Williams, a pro-Corbyn member of the Labour Party’s governing National Executive Committee, claims Labour MPs are exaggerating complaints of anti-semitism in order to discredit Jeremy Corbyn.

Williams sits Labour’s NEC and is an ally of Christine Shawcroft, who has also claimed that rows about anti-semitism and her perceived support of a holocaust denier were stirred up to damage Corbyn, retweeted a statement by the Welsh equivalent of Momentum that suggests claims of Jew hatred in Labour are “inflated” and designed to damage the party ahead of the May local elections.

Welsh Labour Grassroots, of which Williams is secretary, said in its statement that there are only “a few individuals with anti-semitic ideas” in the party and said that members who make ‘false’ accusations should themselves be subject to disciplinary action.

This refusal to accept criticism is exemplified by the by more than 2,000 Corbyn supporters who have backed an open letter suggesting a Jewish-organised protest against antisemitism in the party was the work of a “very powerful special interest group”.

With Corbyn supporters inside Labour rushing to protect their leader, some are now calling for investigations into any members, including MPs, who raised raising concerns about anti-semitism in public, accusing them of campaigning to undermine Corbyn and the Labour party.

Some within Labour cannot accept criticism, seeing it as a smear campaign.
Some within Labour cannot accept criticism, seeing it as a smear campaign.

Why us?

Welsh Labour Grassroots stressed that it ‘utterly abhors’ anti-semitism, but said that the issue was being used “as a political weapon” and that it was “odd” that the Board of Deputies of British Jews had chosen to focus on Labour rather than other parties. “We believe that the supposed extent of anti-semitism within our party has been systematically exaggerated by those on the political right – with the support, sadly, of some Labour MPs – in an attempt to discredit Jeremy Corbyn, the socialist left and supporters of the Palestinian people.”

“It is an acknowledged fact that racism, including antisemitism, is on the rise, and is unfortunately prevalent in all sections of society. It seems odd, therefore, that the Board of Deputies has chosen only to focus on the anti-semitism within one political party, rather than in all political parties, or across society as a whole.”

Corbyn off-message

Unfortunately for those insisting it’s all just a smear campaign, Jeremy Corbyn told Jewish News that he disagreed with those supporters who felt the row was being used to “smear” him, saying: “Of course it’s not a smear. It’s perfectly reasonable to raise any question about one’s public profile activities”.

He also defended Labour MPs, such as Luciana Berger, who had attended the demonstration in Parliament Square. “People have the right to speak out and the right to demonstrate…I will not tolerate abuse of people for their beliefs. Any abuse that’s done is not done in my name.”

Luciana Berger at the anti-semitism demonstration in Parliament Square
Luciana Berger at the anti-semitism demonstration in Parliament Square

Some activists have targetted Labour MPs such as David Lammy for attending the Jewish community protest on Monday and a Momentum group in MP Mary Creagh’s constituency criticised her for joining Conservative MPs including Communities Secretary Sajid Javid in the demonstration.

Most people would agree that the tweet from the Wakefield Momentum group was little more than a veiled threat. It read: “We’re still coming to terms with @MaryCreaghMP ‘s choice of allies. It’s never good to allow yourself to be used to support an attack on the leader of @UKLabour. We’re hoping it’s naivete rather than complicity. An apology is due. pic.twitter.com/gZ1F74vQNj— Momentum Wakefield (@MomntmWakefield) March 28, 2018

Investigating whistleblowers

The Edinburgh East Labour party has passed an emergency motion officially asking the Labour NEC to open investigations into Labour party members who have spoken out on the issue of anti-semitism in recent days. The motion was passed despite opposing members saying that any emergency motion should be focussing on the problem of anti-Semitism in the party, not menacing those who spoke about it.

One Scottish Labour source said: “The motion passed by Edinburgh Eastern is utterly shameful. Members across the UK have been united in their outrage at the anti-Semitism in the party, and have rightly spoken out to reassure the Jewish community. But instead of condemning anti-Semitism, this motion demands a formal investigation into those courageous enough to speak out. This sends entirely the wrong message, and shows just how low some supporters of Corbyn are prepared to stoop.”

Opinion

I don’t want to talk about anti-semites inside Labour, or Labour party members who are so convinced of their moral and intellectual superiority to the rest of us plebs that they are incapable of treating criticism as anything other than a smear.  Those whose lives are not invested in the left-wing of the Labour party will see through the paranoia and cowardly ‘don’t look at us, look at them’ responses to criticism, so I won’t ‘labour’ the point here.

No, what confuses me is why anti-semitism exists.

Excluding pre-programmed religious hatred, I can’t see where it comes from. I never have, and probably never will. I know some of them wear funny clothes but hell, so do Muslims, Sikhs, Morris Dancers and Crown Court Judges. Most seem to be white too, so it can’t be a colour thing (I may be wrong here, but I’ve never met a non-white member of the Jewish faith).

I know that anti-semitism exists, but not why. I know I’ve come across lunatic conspiracy theorists claiming Jews control all our banks and money, but then these same people are often flat-earthers too. The only friend I have now who I know to be Jewish works for a local council in Essex and does something to do with planning. I don’t think he owns a bank.

No, anti-semitism, like the class hate we hear spouted with so much vehemence by rabid activists, just doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s political porn for people with small minds and few friends.

Robert Blackthorne

Bluetooth - otherwise known as Robert Blackthorne. I'm a photographer by trade and preference, but have written a couple of plays to boot. I've seen enough of the world to be able to put things into perspective and know how much our daily news is distorted by mainstream news outlets.

Unlike most of the contributors of Goodish Times, I'm a lifelong Conservative voter and voted 'leave' because I was never asked if I wanted to join the Socialist Republic of Brussels and Luxembourg. I hate censorship and bullying, no matter where it originates from.

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