By Adam Booth, Hackney Momentum
After a brief hibernation, the Blairites have begun to resurface, once again creating an outcry over nothing. A spate of hysterical attacks against Corbyn in the past fortnight shows why mandatory reselection remains a necessary demand.
The antics of Labour’s right wing have become a tiresome political Groundhog Day. Every day, Corbyn and his supporters are forced to wake up and endure the same repetitive nonsense.
No matter what the Labour leader does or says, it seems to have little effect on his critics. The tedium continues. Meanwhile, grassroots activists try to get on with the serious business of kicking out the Tories.
Unfortunately for the Blairites, however, nobody in the real world is paying much attention to them anymore. It is time they were shown the door.
The last couple of weeks have seen a boring repeat of all the well-established tropes from the Labour right wing.
First we had the attacks against Corbyn for his ‘softness’ towards the alleged meddling of the Kremlin. Then Owen Smith, Corbyn’s defeated opponent in the 2016 leadership contest, attempted to provoke a clash by publically contradicting the party’s position on Brexit. And now we have an entirely fabricated campaign being stirred up over the supposed problem of anti-semitism in the Labour Party.
None of this is new. And yet the mainstream media – faithfully amplifying the otherwise irrelevant Labour right-wingers – report this as ‘news’.
From the beginning, lest we forget, Corbyn was accused of ‘cosying up’ to ‘terrorists’ in the IRA and Hezbollah. Immediately after the EU referendum, meanwhile, we had the infamous Blairite ‘chicken coup’ – coordinated and launched under the pretence of the Labour leader’s apparently nonchalant Remain campaign.
The accusations about anti-semitism are the latest stick being used to hit the Corbyn movement with. But, again, such hysteria has been going ever since the left-wing Labour MP first ran to be leader in 2015. If it is not Corbyn himself being lambasted directly, then he is harangued vicariously through other leading left figures, such as Ken Livingstone.
And yet all of this bluster, despite an official independent inquiry by Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, which concluded that the Labour Party (surprise, surprise) is not harbouring anti-semites, or racists of any kind.
Is there an election coming up?
Ordinary Labour members thought that such questions had been settled. After Labour’s surprise general election success, it seemed like Corbyn’s critics had been silenced. Blairite stalwarts retreated to the backbenches, and the most vocal opponents went quiet. In some cases, as with Owen Smith, they even pledged their allegiance to the cause by accepting frontbench positions.
But now local elections are approaching and the Labour right wing are once again up to all their usual shenanigans. Along with their friends in the establishment, they will be hoping for a poor performance by Labour – the blame for which, of course, they will place entirely on Corbyn.
This is the real reason behind the latest spurious allegations of anti-semitism against the Labour leader and the left. Why else would Luciana Berger (who also, coincidentally, just happens to be another consistently anti-Corbyn Labour MP) rake up a trivial Facebook comment from over five years ago?
I asked the Leader’s Office for an explanation about this Facebook post first thing this morning. I’m still waiting for a response. pic.twitter.com/DL8ynBtES4
— Luciana Berger (@lucianaberger) March 23, 2018
What’s more, the centrepiece of this latest furore – the Mear One mural – is, again, not news. Corbyn’s inconsequential post about the controversial wall-painting was already brought to light during the 2016 leadership contest. And yet, at the time, it was rightly deemed a non-story by the very same right-wing press that are now baying for blood.
Corbyn’s attempts to hold out an olive branch have had little-to-no effect. Despite the Labour leader publically writing a letter strongly condemning all forms and instances of antisemitism in the Party, all the usual names have rushed to declare their fury with Corbyn.
I have written to the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council. I will never be anything other than a militant opponent of antisemitism. In this fight, I am an ally and always will be. pic.twitter.com/QhQnFEpplU
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) March 26, 2018
Wes Streeting, an ever-reliable voice of the Blairites, stated that he was now “ashamed to be a Labour MP”. John Mann, another outspoken right-winger, asserted that the Party was “rotten to the core”. Margaret Hodge chimed in to audaciously proclaim that Corbyn has become “the posterboy of anti-semites everywhere”.
The mainstream media has happily aided the Labour right wing in their efforts to whip up a frenzy over nothing. They give these gangsters in the PLP a platform at every opportunity, repeat the same tired clichés, and knowingly blow such stories out of all proportion. Whilst ignoring demonstrations of tens-of-thousands of anti-austerity activists, the BBC (amongst others) makes frontpage news of a protest by a few hundred Corbyn critics.
Prominent Jewish groups – such as the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council – have been presented as representatives of the entire Jewish population, despite clearly being led by Tories and Blairites. As a statement by the Jewish Socialist Group notes:
“Jonathan Arkush, the President of the Board of Deputies, was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election as President of the United States on behalf of the Board. This action was harshly criticised by many Jews he claims that the Board represents.
“Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party treasurer in February 2016 and is now the Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.”
Indeed, in their vitriolic haste to attack Corbyn, the Daily Mail give the game away by revealing the extremely middle-class, elderly, and well-to-do nature of those at yesterday’s #EnoughisEnough protest on Parliament Square.
“Time and again, I spoke to middle-class, middle-aged professionals, many of whom had never demonstrated in their lives
“‘Shame on you! Shame on you!’ shrieked Nor, 55, a management consultant from Harrow in north-west London….
“‘My fear is not that Corbyn is making people anti-Semitic but that he is legitimising those attitudes,’ said Richard, 40, one of umpteen off-duty lawyers present in the crowd.”
This “middle-class, middle-aged” small crowd of lawyers and management consultants stands in stark contrast to the youthful and working-class composition of the Corbyn movement, which includes a diverse demographic of left-wingers from all races and religions.
The fact is that the Jewish population, like the whole of capitalist society, is split along class lines. For every anti-Corbyn Jewish organisation, like the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council, there are pro-Corbyn ones representing rank-and-file Jewish labour movement activists, like the Jewish Socialist Group and the Jewish Voice for Labour.
The former hate Corbyn, primarily, because he is left-wing, not because of any alleged sympathies with anti-semitic views. The latter, meanwhile, see through the lies and support the Labour leader because of his class-based policies opposing austerity and war.
Kick out the Blairites! Kick out the Tories!
It is unsurprising that Corbyn’s conciliatory remarks have fallen on deaf ears. At the end of the day, no amount of protestation or self-flagellation would ever be enough for his opponents. They hate everything he stands for. Only when he is gone and the Party is once again safely a vehicle for their careers and the interests of big business will they be happy.
What the Blairites, the establishment, and their media mouthpieces don’t seem capable of realising or understanding, however, is that nobody cares about what they have to say anymore.
Ordinary people are tired of hearing the endless propaganda of the billionaire press. They are not stupid, and can clearly see the contradiction in accusing one of the most consistent anti-racist campaigners of fomenting anti-semitism.
After 10 years of crisis, and eight years of Tory austerity, workers and youth (of all colours and creeds) have genuine, real problems to worry about.
When will I find a job? How can I afford to live? What will happen to me if I get sick? These are the important questions that most people’s minds are focussed on – not cooked-up stories about the one person who seems to be doing anything to address their concerns.
It is time that we too stand firmly and say: enough is enough. Enough is enough of this Blairite sabotage. Our movement cannot afford to be distracted by such games. We have pressing matters at hand: fighting the Tories and the racist, exploitative capitalist system that they defend.